Greenpeace Says 'Frightening'
Radioactivity In Iraqi Villages
By Shino Yuasa

TUWAITHA, Iraq (AFP) - Environmental group Greenpeace called Tuesday on the US-led coalition governing Iraq to clean up villages surrounding a nuclear site outside Baghdad that have been contaminated by "frightening levels" of radioactive material.

Carrying Arabic and English banners that read "Al-Tuwaitha - nuclear disaster. Act now!", Greenpeace activists returned a large uranium "yellowcake" mixing canister to US troops stationed inside the nuclear plant, 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of the capital.

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, Greenpeace said.

"No one cares about us. We are dying slowly. Our whole neighborhood is contaminated. Although Greenpeace came, it is too late," said Tareq al-Obeidi, a 41-year-old Tuwaitha city council member.

"We need medicine and good hospitals. Removing it from the garbage is just the beginning of our long suffering," he said.

Greenpeace said there were three kilograms (6.6 pounds) worth of yellowcake -- slightly enriched uranium -- inside the mixer looted following the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"It is a disgrace that occupying forces can say they are taking care of human health here in Iraq and they can still allow this to lie open on the ground where children can play in it," said Greenpeace spokeswoman Sara Holden.

Greenpeace said in a statement released in Baghdad that "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.

"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 Greenpeace International official Mike Townsley.

During a week-long survey, Greenpeace 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.

Greenpeace 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."

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 Greenpeace team has only been surveying for eight days and has discovered frightening levels of radioactive contamination," said Townsley.

"The IAEA must be allowed to return with a full mandate to monitor and decontaminate. They may believe they have accounted for most of the uranium, but what about the rest of the radioactive material?"

IAEA inspectors have been charged with taking a stock inventory at Al-Tuwaitha, including checking on levels of uranium ore believed to have been looted.



From Tim James


After reading all the info concerning the state of the radioactive contamination in Iraq. One has to wonder if there might be a plan for this. At the rate Iraq is being contaminated, and the fact that people are still dying from GWI DU contamination, our troops and the Iraqis. It would seem that this would be an effective way to reduce the Iraqi population. Of course it's also killing our troops at the same time. Greenpeace is right, certain parts of Iraq should be declared radioactive disaster areas. And to learn that even school children are being exposed to 2,000 times the normal safe levels of radiation, and that nothing is being done about it, shows that we don't really care about the long term effects of what we are doing. Liberators by behind. If the Iraqis came here and did what we are doing to them, does anyone really wonder why they don't want us there?

Keep the radioactive contamination from the oil fields and who really cares if the people of Iraq die en-mass over the next 10 years or so. They have been dying since GWI by the thousands. But the bottom line is that our troops are going to pay a heavy price for their patriotism. A slow death, that the VA refuses to admit exists. Already we are hearing of many people who are deciding not to enlist in the armed forces, or even the reserves. Would you if you were a parent let your child join? Draft time soon folks, endless war and all, ya know. The use of DU, and not securing sights that contain radioactive material is absolutely beyond criminal. It brinks on evil. Oh yeah, I love those bumper stickers. 'Proud to Be An American" Might as well say "Proud To Be An Evil S.O.B.'



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