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Cablegate: Tfiz01: Usaid/Prm Dart Updates From Southern Iraq

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 001242

SIPDIS

STATE ALSO PASS USAID/W
STATE PLEASE REPEAT TO IO COLLECTIVE
STATE FOR PRM/ANE, EUR/SE, NEA/NGA, IO AND SA/PAB
NSC FOR EABRAMS, SMCCORMICK, STAHIR-KHELI, JDWORKEN
USAID FOR USAID/A, DCHA/AA, DCHA/RMT, DCHA/FFP
USAID FOR DCHA/OTI, DCHA/DG, ANE/AA
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA:WGARVELINK, BMCCONNELL, KFARNSWORTH
USAID FOR ANE/AA:WCHAMBERLIN
ROME FOR FODAG
GENEVA FOR RMA AND NKYLOH
DOHA FOR MSHIRLEY
ANKARA FOR AMB WRPEARSON, ECON AJSIROTIC AND DART
AMMAN FOR USAID AND DART

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF IZ WFP
SUBJECT: TFIZ01: USAID/PRM DART UPDATES FROM SOUTHERN IRAQ

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. On 31 March, DART members, accompanied by Coalition
forces, conducted a rapid assessment of Basra International
Airport and a water treatment plant located on the airport
property. On 2 April, the DART received updates from
Coalition forces on the status of Umm Qasr Port, as well as
food and water distributions in southern Iraq. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- --------
BASRA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AND WATER TREATMENT PLANT
--------------------------------------------- --------

2. On 31 March, DART members, accompanied by Coalition
forces, traveled to Basra International Airport (BIA). BIA
is a modern facility with large amounts of ground handling
equipment in good working order. The DART noted two K-
Loaders, one two-ton forklift, one one-ton forklift, and six
to eight pallet trailers for moving commodities. There are
several tank and armored personnel carrier hulks that must
be dragged back from the edge of the runway in order to meet
minimum requirements. The DART observed one small twin-
engine aircraft at the northwest end of airport, but its
condition was unknown. There is also a fully intact air
traffic control tower, reportedly in excellent shape.
However, there was no electricity at the airport at the time
of the DART assessment.

3. The runway is now clear, following debris removal, and
will be ready for use by C-130 aircraft shortly. No
cratering on the surface of the runways was observed. The
DART drove the length of the main runway and observed little
to no stress cracks or surface deterioration. Hazardous
materials, including leaking fuel tanks, spilled oil, and
unexploded ordinance, were observed at the airport.

4. The DART also performed a rapid assessment of the water
treatment plant located on the airport property,
approximately 200 meters west of the administration
buildings. The DART felt that the plant contained an
unusually complex and refined water treatment process for a
drinking water treatment plant. In addition, some
unexpected hazardous chemicals were discovered at the site.
Coalition Force engineers will be alerted to this assessment
information.

5. There is also a second water treatment facility located
on the eastern side of the airport that the DART was unable
to visit for security reasons. Coalition forces informed
the DART that the facility produces 4,000 liters of water
per day, delivered by tanker truck to accessible areas of
Basra. The water is drawn from the Al Basrah canal and the
Al Aqi River, a tributary of the Shatt Al Arab.
Disinfectants are currently not available to add to the
water. Drinking water pumped into trucks for transport into
Basra is not treated, and according to a representative of
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) the
current water quality is the same quality as it was before
the war. Analysis of a water sample collected at the second
water treatment plant was positive for coliform bacteria.
No organic chemicals were detected.

-------------
UMM QASR PORT
-------------

6. On 2 April, DART members in Umm Qasr met with the
Coalition's Chief Engineer for Umm Qasr Port. Coalition
forces are attempting to restart port and silo operations
amidst the chaos of large-scale looting. According to the
Chief Engineer, looters have stripped the generators used
for the silo operation and conveyor belts, taking
alternators and all of the generator's batteries. The
residents appear to be emptying any containers they find to
use for carrying water, often dumping coolant onto the
ground, despite warnings from Coalition forces.

7. Coalition forces have restored electricity to 75 percent
of the town. Restoring electricity to the final fourth of
the city is dependent upon a connection to Basra. Coalition
priorities are to get the silos between the old and new port
operating. Some level of operation in the silo facility is
estimated in four to six weeks. The forces are also trying
to get two standby generators to function, which might allow
the silos to be used to store grain. Nothing appears to be
missing from the silos, the conveyor belts are continuous,
and there is no obvious damage to the assembly. Coalition
forces are optimistic that power can be restored to the
facility so that the conveyor belts can be operated
individually, if not automatically. It is estimated that
the silos, which are twelve stories high, have a storage
capacity of approximately 45,000 metric tons of grain, if
not more.

8. According to the Coalition Chief Engineer for the port,
the combined capacity of the old and new ports is larger
than the Port of Gibraltar, with five miles of waterfront
and one and a half miles of berthing in each of the old and
new facilities. Although the rehabilitation of the ports is
a long-term project, to facilitate their immediate use,
Coalition forces are considering disconnecting the
transformers and setting up a grid of approximately six
generators, 200 to 500 kilovolts each. Once the generators
are fired up, it can be determined how many of the cranes
and other equipment are usable. In the opinion of the Chief
Engineer, before the international community pours a lot of
money into the Umm Qasr port, it should focus on Basra,
which may be a better and even bigger port.

9. Within the next couple of weeks, the channel is expected
to be de-mined. However, another Coalition source told the
DART that dredging the channel may be beyond the scope of
the dredgers at the port. Four mined hot spots have been
identified in the channel, but to date only a 200-meter wide
path has been cleared. That path is not large enough to
handle ships the size of the two carrying the Australian-
donated wheat. As a result, these ships may need to be
diverted to Kuwait, or elsewhere, where the grain would be
milled and then trucked into Iraq.

----------------------------
Food and Water Distributions
----------------------------

10. On 2 April, the DART met with Coalition forces and was
informed that the proposed 3 April food distribution of food
donated by the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society will be
postponed. The DART members suggested a further delay of
the planned food distribution in Umm Qasr as there is no
immediate need for the relief supplies. DART members also
suggested that either the DART or the World Food Program
might want to contribute jerry cans to Umm Qasr for water
collection, but Coalition forces said that many residents
have adequate means of collecting water. Every two
households in the town share a water tank, which might
contain algae and other contaminants but are what the
residents are accustomed to. Coalition forces report that
no residents appear to be suffering from dehydration. With
the opening of the water pipeline from Kuwait, Coalition-
funded Iraqi drivers delivered 320,000 liters of water on 1
April.

11. UNICEF has focused its water distribution on Az Zubayr,
allowing Coalition forces to concentrate water deliveries to
Umm Qasr, Safwan, Umm Khayyal, Al Faw and Az Zubayr.
However, the Coalition forces are anxiously awaiting the
arrival of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and
international organizations (IOs) to take over the water
distribution.

JONES

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