More than a decade after cessation of hostilities, the Gulf region continues to reel under the ravages of war. Kuwait recently revealed that oil well fires ignited by Iraqi troops in the 1991 war and measures taken to extinguish them had caused greater environmental damage than previously thought.
Submitting a report to the United Nations Compensation Commission (uncc), Khaled Ahmed Al Mudhaf, chairperson of Kuwait's public authority for assessment of damages resulting from the Iraqi aggression, cited widespread harm to freshwater supplies and the soil. According to experts, the findings could increase a us $17-billion claim already submitted by Kuwait for environmental damage during Iraq's invasion.
Hydrocarbons from destroyed oil wells and salt from seawater used to douse the fires were "steadily and irreversibly infiltrating into fresh groundwater aquifers and rendering (the groundwater) completely unsuitable for human consumption unless treated", revealed Mudhaf. In addition, a hardened layer of sand and oil caused by bursting oil wells covered 350 square kilometres (sq km) and not 210 sq km as stated in Kuwait's pending claim.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.