Report: Pollution Politics – power, accountability and toxic remnants of war

Report: Pollution Politics – power, accountability and toxic remnants of war

In the first of two major reports, Aneaka Kellay examines how the weakness of current international humanitarian law allows the generation of conflict pollution that can impact both civilian health and the environment for long after the cessation of hostilities. The report argues that a new mechanism is needed to prevent and remedy environmental damage, to increase accountability and improve post-conflict response and assistance.  The executive summary and recommendations are presented below, and the full text can be downloaded from here. Executive summary and recommendations Introduction Humanity’s dependency on the […]

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Iraq, DU and the applicability of peacetime norms during and after conflict

Iraq, DU and the applicability of peacetime norms during and after conflict

A new report from PAX received widespread media coverage last week when it revealed, for the first time, a set of US target coordinates and information for some locations of depleted uranium (DU) strikes from the 2003 Iraq War. The report also sought to assess what the post-conflict response to widespread DU contamination and tonnes of military scrap would have looked like if civil radiation protection guidelines had been properly applied. As one of the TRWP’s principles is that conflict does not immediately remove the requirement to protect public and […]

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Dealing with uncertainty II: towards a precautionary framework for military-origin contaminants

Dealing with uncertainty II: towards a precautionary framework for military-origin contaminants

The previous blog in this two-part series highlighted fears and uncertainties regarding the long-term health impact from military-origin chemical contamination. Some analogies were discussed from the history of industrial chemicals regulation, for example the case of benzene. While the comparison between industrial chemicals and military-origin contaminants is not a complete one, as will be outlined below, it is still of use. The important question of the nature of the action required in the face of uncertainty was not answered; this will be the subject of this second blog. As noted […]

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Screening of new military materials for toxicity and environmental harm

Screening of new military materials for toxicity and environmental harm

Many substances that are currently used for either civilian or military purposes have been proven to have adverse environmental impacts, or present unacceptable risks to human health. As a result the screening of substances prior to their production and use is now recognised as an important means of protecting environmental and public health. To screen a substance means to subject it to study in a way that measures its potential environmental and health impacts, based on knowledge of chemical structure in the first instance, followed by computational modelling, laboratory and […]

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Assessing the toxic legacy of First World War battlefields

Assessing the toxic legacy of First World War battlefields

With the passing of the 99th anniversary of the start of World War One in July, Andy Garrity considers the  substantial environmental legacy in several WWI (1914-1918) battlefields a century since the guns fell silent. Soil and marine sediment contamination has been caused by unexploded ordinance (UXO) and other warfare remnants, in addition to the incorrect disposal of the vast stockpiles that remained after the end of the war. “Sustained and intense fighting” left a legacy of environmental contamination WWI is renowned for its high death toll and the stalemate […]

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New TRW Publication – Toxic Harm: humanitarian and environmental concerns from military-origin contamination

New TRW Publication – Toxic Harm: humanitarian and environmental concerns from military-origin contamination

By Dr Mohamed Ghalaieny. A discussion paper reviewing the problem of toxic pollution from conflict and military activities, presented with an analysis of: existing concerns, methods of study, current legal and environmental controls and their deficiencies and suggested areas for future work. It concludes with a methodology for the assessment and hazard ranking of substances from military activities. The executive summary is presented below, and the full text can be downloaded from here.   Executive Summary Introduction This paper introduces concerns over civilian and environmental harm stemming from the release […]

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Is coalition bombing behind a 17-fold increase in birth defects in an Iraqi city?

Is coalition bombing behind a 17-fold increase in birth defects in an Iraqi city?

By Liz Borkowski This article by guest contributor Liz Borkowski was originally published at The Pump Handle, a US based blog focusing on public health and environmental issues. In just eight years, the incidence of congenital birth defects in Iraq’s Al Basrah Maternity Hospital increased 17-fold, a new study reports. An earlier study found the incidence of birth defects at that hospital to be 1.37 per 1,000 live births between October 1994 and 1995 (out of more than 10,000 births total); in 2003, the rate had jumped to 23 per […]

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