Greenpeace calls on coalition to clean up contaminated Iraqi villages
BAGHDAD: Environmental group Green peace called on the US-led coalition in Iraq Tuesday to clean up villages surrounding a nuclear site outside Baghdad that have been contaminated by “frightening levels” of radioactive material.
Carrying banners that read “Al-Tuwaitha - nuclear disaster. Act now!”, Green peace activists returned a large uranium yellowcake mixing canister to US troops stationed inside the nuclear plant, 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Baghdad. The canister — the size of a small car — contained significant quantities of radioactive yellowcake and had been left open and unattended for more than 20 days on a busy section of open ground near the Tuwaitha plant, Green peace said.d.
“If this had happened in the UK, the US or any other country, the villages around Tuwaitha would be swarming with radiation experts and decontamination teams,” a statement said.
“It would have been branded a nuclear disaster site and the people given immediate medical check-ups.” Much of the material was looted from the facility by villagers who used it for house building and water and food storage, according to Mike Townsley of Green peace International.
During a week long survey, Green peace said it had 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.
Locals were still storing radioactive barrels and lids in their houses, several objects carrying radioactive symbols lie discarded in the community, and there are “consistent and repeated stories of unusual sickness after coming into contact with material from the Tuwaitha plant,” the statement said.
Green peace said the preliminary survey “highlights the total failure of the occupying forces to address the urgent need for a full assessment, containment and clean up of missing nuclear material from the Tuwaitha nuclear facility.” —AFP