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>===== Original Message From Piotr Bein <firstname.lastname@example.org> ===== [disseminate to your networks, watch for next parts] www.umrc.net/downloads/Iraq_report_1.doc Abu Khasib to Al Ah’qaf: Iraq Gulf War II Field Investigations Report © Uranium Medical Research Centre November 2003 Part 3 of Installment 1 ************************************************** Coalition clean-up and soil replacement activities The field team observed a concentrated effort by U.S. military engineering units and Iraqi contractors escorted by U.S. army security forces in the process of clean-up operations of bomb and battle sites. The most disturbing circumstance was observed in the U.S. occupied base in south-western Baghdad in the Auweirj district. It is close to the International Airport and hosts one of the largest Coalition bases around Baghdad, occupying the operational headquarters of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard. The area was subject to considerable aerial bombing and rocket fire prior to the Coalition ground forces' arrival followed by several ground skirmishes along the main routes to the International Airport and western entrances to the City. This area is adjacent to the Mansour District and the main route to many bridges crossing the Tigris into the downtown core. Auweirj contains a wealthy residential neighbourhood including the homes of many (former) Iraqi military officers and the main barracks and staging area for the Republican Guard. Some of the highest overall ambient air and ground surface radioactivity readings were measured in Auweirj. Throughout most of the year, Baghdad’s atmosphere is saturated by dust blowing out of the western desert – a meteorological pattern called the “Sharqi”. Its dust laden winds give an appearance of a fog blanketing the horizon, reaching to a ceiling of ~2,000 meters. The dust and winds were not present during the teams first few days in Baghdad – the city was experiencing one of its brief periods of clear skies, windless and cooling days typical of the late fall. Leaving the downtown core for Auweirj requires crossing one of the elevated bridges over the Tigris River. The raised bridge provides a long view towards the south/southwest. On October 1st, the team’s third day in Baghdad, this view was interrupted by an enormous dust cloud hovering over a several hectare area, rising upwards of 300 meters (1000 ft). The cloud slowly traversed Auweirj, moving north easterly towards the main residential neighbourhoods on the west side of the river. As the team’s vehicle approached Auweirj, the cloud was blanketing the Coalition-occupied base, depositing a layer of fresh dust on people, houses, automobiles, and the highway. We had to turn on the windshield wipers. Departing the Coalition-occupied base was a long, a steady stream of tandem-axle dump trucks carrying full loads of sand, heading south away from the city. Returning from the south was a second stream of fully loaded dump trucks waiting to enter the base. As we passed the base’s main entrance, the gates were opened to reveal bulldozers spreading soil while front-end loaders were filling the trucks that had just emptied their loads of soil (silt and sand). The arriving trucks were delivering loads of sand into the base while the departing trucks were hauling away the base’s topsoil. Interviews of roadside vendors revealed the U.S. had been, for months, removing surface soil, trucking this material into the desert south-west of the city and returning with fresh sand to build up a new surface. Being a “dirty battlefield”, it was understandable that U.S. forces were removing potentially contaminating soils from their living and working areas. But this earth moving exercise appeared counterproductive if contamination was the concern. The soil removal was lofting tonnes of fine, light dust into the local environment, which was then falling back to inundate square kilometres of residential neighbourhoods and Coalition occupied facilities. In several locations, the potentially contaminated soils was dumped so as to establish defensive berms and fill perimeter security caissons surrounding occupied facilities. This practice was observed inside several cities. The method of topsoil removal and replacement at U.S.-occupied bases, living facilities and administrative buildings is mechanically resuspending tonnes of potentially contaminated particulate. The dust clouds are lofting above and spreading over the entire area -- 5,000,000 residents in Baghdad alone. It is also exposing thousands of U.S. military personnel and the many frequent foreign visitors including NGO staff, reconstruction crews, business and trade delegates, and diplomatic and foreign service employees. · Landscaping the battlefields Throughout the team’s tours to locate Baghdad area battlefields and bombsites, mostly at the City’s southern and western approach points, earth-moving crews were observed “landscaping” the battlefields. This work began shortly after the cessation of the major combat engagements in Baghdad. The U.S. is conducting a systematic but incomplete effort to isolate and rectify contaminated sites. The program began with removing damaged and disabled military assets. Emphasis has been placed on the visible sites easily accessed along the roads and highways. Most Iraqi tanks, APC’s and artillery pieces have been winched out of their defensive positions, loaded onto flatbeds and transported to the tank graveyards in Auweirj and the occupied airports. In Baghdad, there remains a small number of damaged tanks and other disabled armoured assets along secondary roads, back yards, and in farm fields. Because of security risks to U.S. forces, they are either not permitted or are understandably disinclined to venture away from the major highways to finish the clean up. With the growing security problems and attacks, resources are being returned to combat duty. Following the removal of Iraqi military assets, U.S. engineering divisions supervise the landscaping program. Press report the battlefield-landscaping program as a cleanup (largely represented by covering over with soil) of UXO (unexploded ordnance) and other dangerous debris left in the many combat areas. The program has not been declared as a clean up of radioactive contamination. Heavy trucks bring in topsoil and debris recycled from the combat and bomb damaged, now Coalition-occupied facilities, and spread it in a course and uneven layer – it is not graded or levelled – leaving the surface impossible to drive on and very difficult to walk on. The backfill is used to cover ad hoc battlefield graveyards, diesel, kerosene and oil spills, an extensive array and high quantity of unexploded tank munitions, pools of loose high-explosive polymer fills, unexploded mines and cluster munitions, and uranium oxide deposits surrounding burned-out and penetrator-defeated Iraqi tank defensive positions. While UMRC was investigating the Auweirj tank graveyard, UXO’s were exploding in the hot sun. In the Al Basra area the team was shaken by the spontaneous detonation of a UXO. At that same Basra location, days before, a child was killed by a spontaneous explosion as he walked through the battlefield in the date palm orchard next to his house. · Clean-up operations missing or avoiding radioactive tanks and uranium oxide deposits Battlefield landscaping operations are most extensive in Baghdad although they have been carried out to lesser degrees elsewhere. Locals report that the Coalition troops are careful to avoid the radioactive sites and radioactive, disabled Iraqi assets. UMRC interviewed residents, a municipal engineer and industrial workers in Nasiriyah and Basra who witnessed post-conflict battlefield inspections, describing these in detail. The team s radiation surveys of these sites demonstrate that Coalition forces are missing or avoiding several high-risk areas. Three examples are outlined below: 1. U.S. clean-up in Baghdad: Baghdad Gate, Route 6, is the main entry point to the city from the south. The Gate is a massive concrete monument with a double archway spreading over the six-lane, divided highway. One kilometre north of the gate is a main interchange where traffic entering the city can follow a cloverleaf ramp onto an overhead highway, proceeding northbound on the west side of the Tigris to access any of several bridges entering the city. Vehicles can go northwesterly towards the airport or enter the many suburban neighbourhoods. Baghdad Gate was strategically important to the Iraqi defence of Baghdad due to the intersection of the main northbound highways, flanked by the river and forcing all traffic into a slow moving bottleneck. Iraqi tanks and anti-aircraft guns established a major defensive position beside and under the Gate, dug into tank pits and foxholes in the trees and hiding in the orchard perimeter east of the highway. The position stretched a kilometre under mature tree cover. Iraqi command and control was nested underneath the criss-cross of overhead highway exit ramps of the six lane elevated highway. A small date palm orchard behind the tanks and artillery positions provided cover for infantry snipers and chain guns. An anti-tank, anti-aircraft unit was stationed under the northbound archway of the monument. Two hundred yards to the east is a village type suburb housing farmers, small merchants and commuters. There is a roadside picnic area under the trees with automobile pull-off lanes on either side where merchants sell refreshments and gasoline to highway travellers. On the western side of the highway are the remnants of a small medical clinic destroyed by an U.S. rocket during the engagement at Baghdad Gate. According to a roadside merchant selling gasoline next to the monument, a stiff battle ensued here. He watched as helicopter gun-ships and armoured vehicles engaged the Iraqi’s position. He described Iraqi tank crews bailing out of rocketed and burning tanks to be killed by a hail of both U.S. suppression fire and their own friendly fire as they ran towards the orchard for cover. This man personally collected and buried 23 bodies in the field next to Baghdad Gate – a graveyard now covered over by Coalition battlefield landscaping operations. The merchant explained that he was a soldier in Desert Storm, Gulf War I and knew the danger of uranium toxicity from U.S. and British ordnance. He said he was careful only to bury Iraqi soldiers and tank crewmen killed by friendly fire, small arms and aircraft. He was afraid to handle the bodies of Iraqi troops and civilians killed by Coalition tank rounds and A-10 suppression fire. Baghdad Gate exemplifies Coalition landscaping operations in the U.S. controlled areas in the capital. The battlefield was large and complex, requiring three field visits to survey. By the third visit the battleground was almost completely covered with piles of sand and bombed-out building debris trucked into the site and pushed over most of the combat area. During the second visit to this site, while completing the radiation survey of burned-out tank defensive positions on one end of the battlefield, a U.S. security patrol in HUMWVE’s with top-mounted 50 calibre machineguns was guarding Iraqi contractors as they spread the fill towards us. The covering over of this radioactive battlefield was careless and incomplete. Left open and exposed were the scorched and twisted remains of tanks decimated by continuous heavy fire of high explosive rockets and radioactive kinetic penetrators. The remaining metal parts, tank treads, clothing and piles of spent and unspent ammunition littered foxholes and defensive pits where tanks and other assets had been hidden to lower their profiles. Several emplacements, visible as circular burn (DU oxide pools) patches 8 to 10 meters in diameter remained uncovered and undisturbed by the landscaping operation. The field team was invited to join a travelling Iraqi family that had stopped here to have lunch. They were seated on a concrete bench less than 6 metres from a radioactive source measuring ~200 X’s the already elevated, Baghdad reference level. 2. Abandoning radioactive tanks in Nasiriyah: During the opening days of Rapid Dominance, the north-west corridor through Nasiriyah was defended by an Iraqi mechanised, heavy armour group. The battle for control of the entry to Nasiriyah centred on the bridge across the Euphrates River and was reported by US embedded reporters to be one of the toughest engagements fought by the 1st U.S. Marine Expeditionary Force. To defend this approach point and slow the Coalition’s advance, five T-72 Russian-built MBT’s (main battle tanks) were dug into a low-ground position between the road and the adjacent Aluminium Fabrication and Engineering Company’s employees’ residential quarters. This was a typical Iraqi defensive position, close to urban cover, occupying the low ground, not the high ground, extending the survival time by avoiding close in air cavalry attacks, and limiting visibility by oncoming forces with an escape route at the back. In August, an U.S. forces post-conflict investigation and recovery team, accompanied by heavily armed security arrived to conduct a radiation survey of the battlefield. They were observed by residents of the adjacent houses who, in their curiosity, approached the survey team. The residents watched as each tank was inspected with G-M counters. The survey team called in two flat bed trucks and a heavy winching unit. Two of the five tanks were pulled up and out of the battlefield, over a steep and difficult pitch and on to the flatbeds. From here they were transported to a secure location at the Coalition occupied airport. Seven months after the battle, and three months after the US survey team had removed the two tanks, UMRC investigated this battlefield to find the three remaining tanks were radioactive. The tanks had been disabled by a combination of low-trajectory delivered non-explosive, kinetic penetrators and direct armour, explosively-formed or shaped charge penetrators (e.g., probably by mechanised infantry vehicles or manually fired rockets). Neither top munitions nor air delivered penetrator entry channels were found on these tanks. The radioactive ballistic penetrations were clearly visible on the turrets and chassis of the three MBT’s, generating G-M count levels several hundred times background. The residents of the houses located within 30 metre of the tanks reported being warned by the U.S. survey team. Teenagers in a group watching the survey work and tank removal were advised by an interpreter not to play in the tanks because they could get sick. 3. British investigations at Abu Khasib fail to post warnings or remove hazards The advance on Al Basra was commanded by the British under the code name, Operation James (a sub-division of Operation Telic). The 7 Armoured Division ’s joint operations included the famous Desert Rats of the 3rd Commando Brigade and attachments from the Australian armed forces (Operation Falconer). They engaged the toughest of the Iraqi armoured divisions during what is reported to have been the heaviest combat witnessed during the 26 days of combat. The approach to Al Basra was defended by three Iraqi mechanised tank divisions, marine units using the canals and rivers, and a host of paramilitary and local resistance groups. UMRC found the largest concentration of disabled Iraqi MBT’s and the largest battlefield in Iraq at Abu Khasib, south of Al Basra. Al Basra, the second largest city in Iraq, with 1.5 million residents, was under the control of the British forces at the time of UMRC’s investigation. Unlike Baghdad, where U.S. forces have carried out soil removal and replacement, battlefield landscaping and military hardware retrieval operations, the Al Basra’s combat areas remain largely unchanged over the seven months since the end of the battle. Witnesses interviewed in this area report that a British army radiation survey team inspected the large Abu Khasib battlefield. The UK team arrived to the area dressed in bright white, full-body radiation suites with protective facemasks and gloves. They were accompanied by translators who were ordered to warn residents and local salvage and recycling crews (typically described as looters in the western press) that the tanks in this battlefield are radioactive and must be avoided. The British team surveyed tanks and APC’s (Armoured Personnel Carriers) in which UMRC later found the highest number, highest levels and highest concentrations of radioactive source points and hot spots throughout its 13-day field trip. According to several persons interviewed, the UK MOD survey team strongly encouraged a group of bystanders to post signs on the tanks warning of the dangers of radioactivity to children, salvagers and curiosity seekers. The British forces have taken no steps to post warnings, seal tanks and APC’s or remove the highly radioactive assets. The team found radioactivity in and around most tanks in this battlefield as well as elevated readings on the soil surface, in the air and inside occupied buildings situated in the battlefield. The British Army 2 Close Support Regiment (Royal Logistics Corp) has posted on the Internet, photographs showing the burned-out remains of an Iraqi MBT in Abu Khasib. This particular tank was, coincidentally, inspected by UMRC’s field team. It remains as a curiosity-seekers attraction on the roadside between Abu Khasib and Al Basra. The tank’s diesel engine and several forged metal parts have been removed and recycled into the community. The direct-armour, uranium kinetic penetrator’s entry channels can be seen in the MOD photo at the base of the main gun. The tank was also hit by a rocket or HEAT (high-explosive anti tank) round that kicked the turret off its rotary mount. This tank’s radioactivity readings are 200 X’s background. Tens of thousands of unexploded rounds of ammunition (UXO) and ballistic debris still litter the Abu Khasib and Basra battlefields. British security and stabilisation forces are regularly seen touring this neighbourhood but are careful not to approach the battlefields and disabled Iraqi tanks. [end of installment 1] ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ---------------------~--> Buy Ink Cartridges or Refill Kits for your HP, Epson, Canon or Lexmark Printer at MyInks.com. Free s/h on orders $50 or more to the US & Canada. http://www.c1tracking.com/l.asp?cid=5511 http://us.click.yahoo.com/mOAaAA/3exGAA/qnsNAA/9rHolB/TM ---------------------------------------------------------------------~-> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to: email@example.com Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/ _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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