- Back in the 1980's, nuclear armed Israel carried out
a pre-emptive bombing of Iraq's Al-Tuetha nuclear power station which is
located just south of Baghdad. While Saddam Hussein didnít posses
nuclear weapons, his nuclear power station which was being constructed
still had much radioactive waste stored in two large warehouses. The waste,
stored mostly in large metal drums, sat dormant for many years.
- After the Anglo-American Invasion last spring the warehouses
were looted, and many of the barrels containing radioactive material were
carted away to be washed out in the small stream which separates the tiny
rural village from Al-Tuetha. After being cleaned in the water supply for
the area, the barrels were then sold to uneducated people in the village
to be used for storing their drinking water. Thus, the water and now food
of the entire village is contaminated with radioactive material.
- The health problems experienced by the people in the
village are too numerous to track. Stories abound of strange tumors, rashes
- I had come here today to visit a family with a baby who
was born with a huge tumor growing out of his back, caused by his mother
being radiated by the village drinking water and probably by eating contaminated
food as well. The baby had since died from cancer, and the father was away
at work in the village which has over 70% unemployment.
- Just outside of this home, a man drives up in a beat
up old maroon Volkswagen Beetle, and asks us if he can help with anything.
- Adel Mhomoud, a 44 year old bee-keeper, invites us to
his home. Driving down the bumpy dirt road, dust swirls about the beautiful
rural countryside. Vegetable fields are lined with palm trees and small
modest homes dot the area. To our right just a stones throw away is the
bombed out Al-Tuetha nuclear station, now guarded by a few American soldiers,
who werenít there to stop the looting in April. I wonder why they
guard it now, too little, and most certainly too late.
- A small, dirty stream which is the contaminated water
source for the village runs between the dirt road and the fence of the
nuclear storage buildings. The stream is the only water in this area.
- After several minutes Adel pulls over near his home,
and limps over to greet us into his home.
- "I have cancer, and I know I'm dying. My white blood
cell count is 14,000, and I don't have enough red blood cells. We are all
sick; our joints ache, my hips are killing me, and my blood is bad. But
nobody will help us here."
- He has had hundreds of reporters come to record his story.
He asked many of them to take samples of his honey to test for radiation,
but nobody has returned him the results.
- We follow the kind and soft spoken man down a dirt path
lined with palm trees to where he keeps his bees. As we pass his home there
are stacks of white bee boxes on his porch, dusty and unused.
- We stand in the sun under the palms, talking. Adel tells
us he used to keep 300 boxes of bees, and now he is down to 70, and each
of these is only half full, with lethargic bees.
- "Right after the invasion my bees went crazy. I
never saw them so aggressive and strong in 20 years; this was when they
were first contaminated. Then shortly after that they all began to die,
and now this is all I have left, and as you can see they are very weak.
I don't think they will live until the Spring."
- He puts on his protective head cover and pulls out a
tray about 30% covered with bees. Several begin to lazily fly about.
- His bees used to produce one ton of honey per year. Now,
they have yet produced enough for him to take to market.
- Adel has a wife and two daughters, 14 and 19 years old.
He fought in the Iraq/Iran War, and pulls up his leg to show me several
gashes and indentations from injuries sustained.
- "Everyone here is hurt or sick from something. You
can see this in the village. Our water, land, food, and now all the people
- we are all contaminated."
- One of his young dogs died recently.
- He thanks us for writing a story and filming a documentary
about his situation. He wants the truth to get out about the plight of
his family, his friends, his village. He says,
- "I welcome anyone who comes to tell the truth-it
will help us sleep better at night."
- I apologize to him meekly for his situation. I tell him
I hope people will read or watch his story, and try to help him and his
people in some way. My friend asks Adel what he will do about his situation
- is there anything else he can do, or that we can do to help him?
- Adel says,
- "We are all going to die. It just depends on if
you are killed, or if you die naturally."
- We stand talking with his family awhile as he shows us
his loom. His wife brings out a handmade carpet and he offers it to us
as a gift, and invites us back to his home anytime, Insh'allah (if God
- Insh'allah, Adel. Insh'allah...