Iraq's battered refinery get no spare parts to relieve pollution in Baghdad

May 20, 1999 02:00 AM

Poisonous gases, solid and liquid wastes spewed out of Iraq's oldest refinery every day are polluting the environment of the capital Baghdad, a senior Oil Ministry official said.
The refinery in Daura, 20 km east of Baghdad and home to about 5 mm people, treats nearly 100,000 bpd of crude oil. Of these, an average of 45 % is turned into clean products, Daura's Director-General Kamel al-Fatli told.
"We normally produce a lot of pollutants... and lack the spare parts to treat (them)... We are effectively participating a great deal in polluting the environment of Baghdad," Muwafaq Ibrahim, an engineer, said.
Daura was built in 1954. To keep it running smoothly, the government every year allocated about $ 13 mm for the purchase of spare parts and equipment.
Al-Fatli said that practice came to end when the United Nations slapped sweeping economic sanctions on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990.
Most of the ageing and ramshackle furnaces, boilers, metal towers and pipes should have beenreplaced a long time ago, said al-Fatli.
But matters related to pollution "are not included in the list of our priorities," al-Fatli said.

Columns of black smoke rise from Daura's flare towers and at least 200 cm of waste water is dumped into the Tigris River nearby.
"Unlike other countries, we fish, swim and drink from the river," he said.
Daura's water treatment facilities are crumbling due to increased salinity in river water which has soared by at least 100 % in the past two decades, al-Fatli said.
Water treatment capacity has declined to 250 cm per hour from 900 cm in the past 10 years, he said.
As a result, al-Fatli had to slash production of lubricants to 70,000 mm cm a year from 100,000 cm.
Also, his 2,200 workers are producing lower quality gasoline with an octane rating of 81.
Oil Ministry officials blame the situation in the refinery on the United States which they accuse of holding up most contracts related to the rehabilitation of the downstream industry.
Washington and London are reluctant to approve spare part contracts to revamp Iraq's refining installations in a bid to limit the smuggling of products to neighbouring countries.
An Oil Ministry spokesman told that the two countries have blocked up to 36 % of the contracts submitted by Iraq for the purchase of oil spare parts.
Al-Fatli said $ 14 mm worth of equipment had reached Daura and is now contributing to "modest improvement" in output.
Ibrahim, the engineer, however, said the refinery has yet to receive equipment to minimise impact of pollution on the environment.
"We badly need incinerators ... waste water treatment instruments as well as pollution control gear for our boilers and furnaces," he said.

Source: AP via Newspage
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