Extended strikes of the US aviation on Baghdad may entail more serious consequences than deaths of civilians. Any Tomahawk or an aircraft bomb launched from American ships or fighters may become a detonator to a long-term ecological disaster similar to that one in the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl in 1986.
While the coalition troops are searching for weapons of mass destruction, they may themselves become the initiators of the weapons usage. The town of El-Tuweis, 17 kilometers to the south-east of Baghdad, has a large burial ground of nuclear wastes, it is the largest in the region.
International ecology organizations say, the depository contains 670 tons of natural uranium. About 500 tons of the total amount are enriched uranium, 109 tons are other uranium oxides (they are 1,8 tons of uranium with the concentration rate of 12,6% in the form of UO2 powder and 6 tons of depleted uranium). There are also low-level industrial wastes.
Experts say that even a hit of an average-power missile, like a cruise missile or an aircraft bomb weighing 500 kilograms, will destroy the depository. It is an open secret already that Tomahawk may swerve from the path, and that Americans have already extended the area of their bombings. If we assume that the nuclear depository is destroyed, emission of 50% of its contents into the atmosphere at the windspeed of 10 meters per second will contaminate the area of about 130 square kilometers.
Specialists say, it is impossible to forecast consequences of the radioactive contamination because of the region's weather conditions: because of sandstorms, the isothermal character of the vertical air stability and the direction of air movement in the upper layers of the atmosphere. The only thing that can be predicted already now is the growth in number of cancer diseases, increase in the death rate among the local population, mutations of flora and fauna. Ecologists stress that radioactive contamination won't be local and nonrecurring. Its consequences may have an effect not only upon the Mideast region, but also South Europe, the Caucasus region and Central Asia.
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://accidents.pravda.ru/accidents/2003/10/35/285/9530_radiacia.html