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[casi] Greenpeace launches clean water campaign in contaminated Iraqi villages

Greenpeace launches clean water campaign in contaminated Iraqi villages

BAGHDAD (AFP) Jun 28, 2003

Environmental group Greenpeace on Saturday urged villagers near Iraq's
largest and badly-looted nuclear facility to stop using radioactive barrels
to store water and food.
Greenpeace said it was offering clean storage containers to the residents
who live near the Tuwaitha nuclear plant, some 25 kilometres (15 miles)
south of the capital.

"Greenpeace hopes that by offering new barrels specifically designed for
water storage we can return the last of the contaminated barrels to the US
military for safekeeping inside the Tuwaitha site," Greenpeace's Mike
Townsley said in a statement.

The residents, at great risk to their health, have been using the
contaminated barrels since the plant was looted at the end of the US-led
invasion of Iraq.

The barrels were contaminated with a uranium by-product known as
"yellowcake" and Greenpeace has warned that the water supply may have been
poisoned as residents, mostly farmers, washed the barrels in the nearby
Tigris River.

While the US army buys radioactive barrels for three dollars each, many
people keep them as a new barrel costs 15 dollars, Greenpeace said.

Some 150 out of 500 barrels stolen from the Tuwaitha plant are still
unaccounted for, it said.

"We collected six barrels today. It is a significant start. We are hoping to
collect more," said Townsley.

On Tuesday, Greenpeace returned a large mixing canister containing three
kilograms (6.6 pounds) worth of yellowcake to US troops stationed inside the
nuclear plant.

The group has also uncovered radioactivity in a number of buildings,
including one source measuring 10,000 times above normal and another,
outside a 900-pupil primary school, measuring 3,000 times above normal.

The environmental group also urged the US-led coalition to give the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a full mandate to search, survey
and make sure the towns and villages around the plant are radiation free.

The environmental group accused the coalition of refusing so far to allow
experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out
proper documentation and decontamination in Iraq.

The US-led coalition has, so far, allowed the IAEA inspectors to take a
stock inventory at the plant, including checking the levels of uranium ore
believed to have been looted.

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