Environmental Issues in Iraq

Environmental Issues In Iraq

Iraq has a number of environmental issues with some relating to past military conflicts.

Events of 1980–2005 have created environmental crises of emergency proportions. Military operations in three wars (1980–88, 1991, and 2003 to present) have left unexploded ordnance and land mines in exposed positions, killing or wounding an estimated 100,000 people in the early 2000s.Environmental Crisis Worsening In Iraq Because of infrastructure damage, significant parts of the population do not have adequate water supply or sanitation systems, and sites where municipal and medical wastes have accumulated carry the risk of disease epidemics. The wartime destruction of military and industrial infrastructure has released heavy metals and other hazardous substances into the air, soil, and groundwater.

Numerous spills have resulted from damage to Iraq’s oil infrastructure, and the lack of water treatment facilities at Iraqi refineries has led to pollution from those installations. In the alluvial plain, soil quality has been damaged by the deposit of large amounts of salts, borne by irrigation overflows and wind and promoted by poor soil drainage. Desertification and erosion also have reduced arable land.

Transboundary pollution and a lack of river basin management by the government have led to the degradation of Iraq's major waterways. Under Saddam Hussein, the government constructed the Glory Canal which drained the extensive marshes in the lower reaches of the alluvial plain, changing water circulation and wildlife patterns over a wide area. Beginning in 2004, some restoration has occurred. Flooding danger in the alluvial plain has decreased since construction of dams upstream on the Euphrates. Although the interim government appointed in 2004 included a Ministry of Environment, long-term environmental crises such as the depletion of marshland in the Shatt al Arab have a low priority.

Read more about Environmental Issues In Iraq:  Specific Issues

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