“We sometimes had to stay overnight in some sites for a week or ten consecutive days,” Hassan said.
Hassan started working with teams to clear contamination from Iraq’s former battle zones after graduating from the College of Engineering at the University of Mosul in 2013. His work there was paused for several years after Islamic State forces occupied the northern Iraqi city in 2014. (See a related article, “An Encounter with a Mosul Photographer.”)
He was only able to resume work in 2018. Hassan said he wanted to build treatment plants in several governorates to dispose of all chemical and radioactive pollutants.
A Former Minister’s Advice
The teams began their work during the tenure of Abdul Razzaq Al-Issa as minister of higher education and scientific research. (See a related article, “Iraq’s Former Higher Education Minister Strives to Improve Universities.”)
Al-Issa told Al-Fanar Media that some Iraqi governorates still contain radioactive pollutants. These include the Mosul region and the border area between Iraq and Kuwait, he said.
The sources of radioactive waste vary, Al-Issa said, but include remnants of weapons used in previous wars.
He added: “The best way to get rid of this radiation is to expand the establishment of treatment plants.”
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Two years ago, the ministry established four radioactive waste treatment plants in Basra Governorate. Al-Issa said Iraq had scientific teams capable of the task, “but there must be a political will to liquidate this waste in all governorates that suffer from the problem.”
To read more about the efforts of scientists and researchers to deal with sources of environmental pollution in Iraq, see the following selected articles from Al-Fanar Media’s archives: