Mosul Dam risks collapse that would put 1.5 million people at risk in Iraq

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In the midst of the chaos in the Middle East that has persisted for the past decade, there is another problem to add to the Iraqi people’s plates. An important dam that helps bring water to some of the driest places on earth risks collapse in the near future. The Mosul Dam on the Tigris river is in a desperate state that could cause the structure to rupture.

The dam’s collapse could send up to 45-foot-tall waves of water into some of the largest cities in the Middle East, including the capital of Iraq— Baghdad. The UN has issued a warning to the people within these towns and the world to prepare for the worst while also attempting to patch the dam. The UN has asked for $861 million dollars to attempt to fix the dam, but as of March 9, 2015 have received less than 10% of the money.

If the worst does occur, not only would the costs of rebuilding leave the country in  serious debt, but many lives could be lost. Up to 1.5 million people live in the at-risk areas surrounding the dam. Many solutions to the problem have been thrown around, but the future remains uncertain.

Gage Miller, a sophomore, said, “I think the American military should send aid to the area to help stop the situation. Also, military intelligence should help the area to find solutions to the problem. If we can’t fix it, we need to help [re]locate the citizens.”

The dam has been problematic for a while now, and repairs were begun in 2014 to attempt to stabilize it. However, when the Islamic State took over the area, they abandoned the dam project. Without any maintenance workers, the cracks on the dam’s infrastructure were allowed to progress to potentially irreversible levels of damage. While many measures have been put in place to strengthen the dam, the factory in which the concrete used to patch the dam was purchased from has been under tight ISIS rule, which has made peaceful economics nearly impossible.

Mr. Christensen, a science teacher at SLVHS, said, “The military needs to help protect the engineers in the area and send in others to help fix the dam before it’s too late.” Coming from a scientific background, Christensen was also upset that American engineers would have such a difficult time bringing intelligence to the area to help the country fix the dam. He said, “It is very difficult because politically none of us want to get involved for fear of ISIS. But something needs to be done and we can only hope it is resolved peacefully.”

The foundation of the dam is naturally unsteady, and lots of problems have persisted since its creation. The ground on which it stands is known to erode, making the already potentially dangerous business of dam building even more worrying.

Since the Islamic State had taken over the area, the Iraqi government has been forced to walk on eggshells in order to keep the tensions low. Threats of blowing up the dam where even in discussion for some time, but have appeared to have dissolved.

According to the New York Times, Iraq is therefore taking military action by sending 450 troops of soldiers in order to secure the dam, sending militant groups to the area— which is extremely close ISIS territory.

Charlie Kerns, a junior at SLVHS, was most upset by neglect ISIS has forced upon the people of Iraq. “It really upsets me that ISIS is so self absorbed with themselves that they would put so many lives at risk,” said Kerns, “If they’re trying to prove their worth as a government, they’re failing.”

The U.S. has sent some aid to the area in order to help the situation, but their efforts are small in comparison to the problem at hand.

The Iraqi government has warned many of the people of the area to flee their homes and seek shelter far from the area. However, because of the large cityscape, many of these people are in impoverished lifestyles and continue to face issues that make moving only a dream. The government has continued to enforce evacuation plans in the area. There is also worry that some of the hazardous material of the area, including power plants and oil rigs, could cause natural disasters that would plague the area even after the flooding has ceased.

By Serena Mendoza

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