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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

062096_cia_72224_72224_01.txt
Subject: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF OIL FIRE
Not Finally Evaluated Intelligence
TO FACILITATE ELECTRONIC ACCESS, THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN
REFORMATTED TO ELIMINATE INFORMATION THAT DOES NOT PERTAIN
TO GULF WAR ILLNESS ISSUES OR THAT IS CLASSIFIED. A COPY OF
THIS REDACTED DOCUMENT, IN ORIGINAL FORMAT, IS AVAILABLE ON
REQUEST.
JULY 1991
KUWAIT:          ENVIRONMENTAL
IMPACT OF THE OIL FIRES
SUMMARY
POLLUTION FROM THE OIL WELL FIRES NOW BURNING IN KUWAIT
HAS IMPORTANT LOCAL AND REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES.
EVEN IF ALL FIRES ARE EXTINGUISHED BY MAY 1992,
A BROAD REGION WHICH WE HAVE DIVIDED INTO THREE
WILL EXPERIENCE ELEVATED LEVELS OF SULFUR DIOXIDE AND SOOT.
THE HARDEST HIT AREA IS LIMITED TO KUWAIT AND NORTHERN SAUDI
ARABIA. IN THESE PLACES, POLLUTION CONCENTRATIONS WILL REGULARLY
EXCEED US NATIONAL AIR QUALITY STANDARDS. IN KUWAIT CITY, FOR
EXAMPLE, A FEW DAILY SULFUR DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS WILL REACH LEVELS
10 TIMES ABOVE US STANDARDS AND US PARTICULATE CEILINGS WILL BE
SURPASSED ON MORE THAN 100 DAYS. IN AL AHMADI--IN THE HEART OF
THE GREATER AL BURQAN OILFIELD--AIR POLLUTION WILL BE THE MOST
EXTREME, WITH PARTICULATE LEVELS OCCASIONALLY TOPPING US STANDARDS
BY A FACTOR OF 200 OR MORE. IN SAUDI ARABIA, PARTICULATES WILL
DEGRADE KHAFJI'S AIR QUALITY BELOW US STANDARDS ON NEARLY 100
DAYS. IN KUWAIT CITY POLLUTION PROBLEMS WILL BE THE MOST INTENSE IN
MID-OCTOBER, WHEN SEASONAL WEATHER PATTERNS WILL CAUSE WINDS TO
DIE DOWN AND POLLUTANTS BECOME TRAPPED UNDER TEMPERATURE
INVERSION LAYERS.
THE MODERATELY AFFECTED REGION EXTENDS FROM THE DELTA OF THE
EUPHRATES RIVER IN IRAQ-AND ADJACENT PARTS OF IRAN--SOUTH ACROSS
THE PERSIAN GULF ALMOST TO ABU DHABI, AND INLAND IN SAUDI ARABIA
TOWARD RIYADH. IN THESE PLACES, SULFUR DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS WILL
OCCASIONALLY REACH LEVELS THAT EXCEED US STANDARDS, BUT FOR THE MOST
PART WILL REMAIN WITHIN THEM. PARTICULATE LEVELS, HOWEVER, WILL
REGULARLY BREACH US MARKERS, OFTEN BY WIDE MARGINS. AREAS IN THE
MODERATELY AFFECTED REGION THAT ARE NORTH OF KUWAIT WILL EXPERIENCE
THEIR WORST POLLUTION IN THE FALL AND WINTER, WHILE AREAS TO THE SOUTH
RECEIVE POLLUTION-BEARING WINDS IN THE SPRING AND SUMMER.
THE SLIGHTLY AFFECTED REGION STRETCHES GREAT DISTANCES INTO
CENTRAL AND SOUTHEASTERN ASIA AND ALSO INCLUDES MOST OF SAUDI
ARABIA, IRAQ, AND IRAN. ALTHOUGH POLLUTION CONCENTRATIONS WILL BE
ELEVATED AS A RESULT OF THE FIRES, LEVELS REMAIN CONSISTENTLY WITHIN
US LIMITS. THE PERSIAN GULF AND ARABIAN PENINSULA WILL EXPERIENCE
THEIR STEEPEST POLLUTION LEVELS IN THE SPRING AND SUMMER, WHILE MORE
REMOTE SECTIONS OF THE SLIGHTLY AFFECTED REGION WILL MARK AN UPSURGE
IN POLLUTION IN THE FALL AND WINTER.
ON THE BASIS OF THESE POLLUTION LEVELS,
MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY WILL INCREASE IN THE HARDEST HIT REGION.
RELIABLE US EPIDEMIOLOGICAL STUDIES THAT HAVE ESTABLISHED A
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SULFUR DIOXIDE AND PARTICULATE LEVELS AND
SICKNESS AND DEATH FORM THE BASIS OF THE          FINDINGS THAT HEALTH
PROBLEMS WILL BE MOST PRONOUNCED IN THE AREAS CLOSEST TO THE
OILFIELDS. FOR EXAMPLE, IN AL AHMADI          IN
ADDITION TO NORMAL RATES OF ILLNESS AND DEATH, OVER 25 PERCENT OF THE
POPULATION WILL BECOME ILL ENOUGH TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION AND 2
PERCENT WILL DIE. PROBLEMS DROP OFF RAPIDLY IN KUWAIT CITY, WHERE
7.6 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION IS PROJECTED TO GET SICK FROM THE
POLLUTION AND 6 PERCENT IS PROJECTED TO DIE. BEYOND KUWAIT, ONK
KHATI FACES SIGNIFICANT INCREASED ILLNESS BECAUSE OF THE SMOKE.
POLLUTION LEVELS WILL GROW IF FIREFIGHTERS EXPERIENCE GREATER
THAN EXPECTED DIFFICULTIES IN EXTINGUISHING THE FIRES. TROUBLESOME
FIRES, DIFFICULT OILFIELD OPERATIONAL CONDITIONS, BUREAUCRACY AND
MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS, OR UNPREDICTABLE EVENTS COULD DELAY
PROGRESS. IF SUCH DELAYS CAUSE FIREFIGHTING EFFORTS TO TAKE TWO
YEARS, THE          ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS WILL WORSEN
IN ALL THREE REGIONS. IN THE HARDEST HIT AREA, THE NUMBER OF DAYS
DURING WHICH AIR QUALITY WILL FAIL TO MEET US STANDARDS RISES 40
PERCENT COMPARED TO THE ONE YEAR TIMETABLE FOR EXTINGUISHING THE
BLAZES. IN THE MODERATELY AND SLIGHTLY AFFECTED AREAS, THE NUMBER
OF DAYS WITH SUBSTANDARD AIR BECAUSE OF PARTICLES INCREASES
SUBSTANTIALLY, NEARLY DOUBLING IN MANY CITIES. FIREFIGHTING ACTIVITY
IN THE EARLY SUMMER MONTHS WILL BE CRITICAL. IF UNFORESEEN EVENTS
BRING SUCH EFFORTS TO A VIRTUAL STANDSTILL, SEASONAL WIND PATTERNS AND
TEMPERATURE INVERSIONS WILL CAUSE POLLUTION LEVELS IN THE HARD HIT
REGION TO ESCALATE BEYOND THOSE PROJECTED IN THE ONE YEAR SCENARIO
WHILE MODERATELY AND SLIGHTLY AFFECTED AREAS SEE SHARP INCREASES M
THE NUMBER OF DAYS WITH AIR DEGRADED BY PARTICULATES.
THE KUWAITI OIL FIRES
OVER HALF OF KUWAIT'S 1,000 OIL WELLS WERE IGNITED-AND MOST OF THE
REST WERE DAMAGED-BY THE IRAQIS AS THEY WITHDREW FROM KUWAIT.1 IN TOTAL,
INDUSTRY EXPERTS ESTIMATE THAT THESE FIRES ARE BURNING UP TO 4-6 MILLION BARRELS A
DAY (B/D) OF CRUDE OIL.
THE GREATER AL BURQAN OILFIELD, WITH ABOUT 700 WELLS--OF WHICH 365 (51
PERCENT) WERE I@TED--IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FIELD IN TERMS OF HOW MUCH OIL IT
PRODUCES, ITS NUMBER OF WELLS AND FIRES, AND THE AMOUNT OF SMOKE IT GENERATES.
BECAUSE MOST OIL IN THE FIELD CONTINUALLY FLOWS TO THE SURFACE NATURALLY AS A
1 THESE FIGURES EXCLUDE THE 300 OR SO PRODUCING WELLS IN THE ONSHORE NEUTRAL ZONE.
APPROXIMATELY 90 OF THOSE LOW PRESSURE WELLS WERE SABOTAGED BY THE IRAQIS EARLY IN 
THE WAR.
ONLY A HANDFUL OF THEM CAUGHT ON FIRE.
RESULT OF HIGH SUBSURFACE PRESSURE, THE FIRES WILL CONTINUE TO RAGE UNTIL
FIREFIGHTERS TACKLE EACH ONE. THE AL BURQAN FIELD IS THE FIELD THAT IS CLOSEST TO
KUWAIT CITY AND OTHER COMMUNITIES ON THE COAST. ITS NORTHERN SECTION ALMOST
ABUTS KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, AND THE COMMUNITY OF AL AHMADI IS
NESTLED IN ITS CENTER. KUWAIT'S OTHER FIELDS ARE SMALLER, PRODUCE CONSIDERABLY
LESS OIL, AND ARE MORE DISTANT FROM POPULATION CENTERS THAN THE GREATER AL
BURQAN.
THE POLLUTION MOST LIKELY TO RESULT FROM
THE FIRES.
TO PREDICT FOUR
KEY ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS:
SULFUR DIOXIDE CONCENTRATION. THIS MEASURE REFERS TO THE AMOUNT OF
SULFUR DIOXIDE (SO2) SUSPENDED IN THE AIR. MEASUREMENTS ARE EXPRESSED
IN TERMS OF MICROGRAMS PER CUBIC METER. IN THE UNITED STATES, THE EPA
HAS SET A STANDARD FOR THE MAXIMUM DAILY SULFUR DIOXIDE AVERAGE-WHICH
MAY BE EXCEEDED ONLY ONCE A YEAR--AT 365 MICROGRAMS PER CUBIC METER.
SULFUR DIOXIDE DEPOSITION. THIS MEASURE REFERS TO THE AMOUNT OF SULFUR
DIOXIDE THAT ACCUMULATES ON THE GROUND OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, EXPRESSED
IN GRAMS PER SQUARE METER. IT INCLUDES BOTH WET AND DRY DEPOSITION--
WHAT WAS DEPOSITED BY RAIN OR SETTLED TO THE SURFACE UNDER DRY CONDITIONS.
SCIENTISTS CONSIDER AN ANNUAL SULFUR DIOXIDE DEPOSITION RATE OF 3.2 GRAMS
PER SQUARE METER (32 KILOGRAMS PER HECTARE--16 KILOGRAMS OF PURE SULFUR)
-A CRITICAL LEVEL.
POLLUTANTS PRODUCED BY BURNING CRUDE OIL
BURNING CRUDE OIL CAN PRODUCE A WIDE RANGE OF COMBUSTION PRODUCTS. SOME
REPRESENT THE RESULTS OF BURNING THE HYDROCARBON ITSELF WHILE OTHERS
REPRESENT VARIOUS OTHER COMPONENTS THAT CAN BE CARRIED IN THE OIL SUCH AS
SULFUR OR HEAVY METALS. AMONG THE POSSIBLE PRODUCTS ARE:
POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS (PAHs).
NAPHTHALENE, 2-METHYLNAPHTHALENE, 1-
METHYLINAPTHALENE, BIPHENY1,
2, 6-DIMETHYLNAPHTHALENE, ACENAPTHTYLENE,
ACENAPTHENE, DIBENZOFURAN, FLUORENE,
PHENANTHRENE, ANTHRACENE, CARBAZOLE,
FLUORANTHENE, PYRENE, BENZO[a]ANTHRACENE,
CHRYSENE, BENZO[b]FLUORANTHENE
BENZO[k]FLOURANTHENE, BENZO[e]PYRENE,
BENZO[a]PYRENE, INDENO(1,2,3,-cd)PYRENE,
DIBENZO[a,h]ANTHRACENE, BENZO{g,h,i}PERYLENE.
INORGANIC ACIDS. HYDROCHLORIC, PHOSPHORIC,
SULFRIC, NITRIC, HYDROFLUORIC.
METALS. PLATINUM, TITANIUM, MOLYBDENUM,
ZIRCONIUM, SILVER, ALUMINUM, BERYLLIUM, CADMIUM,
CALCIUM, CHROMIUM, COBALT, COPPER, IRON,
MAGNESIUM, MANGANESE, SODIUM, NICKEL, LEAD, TIN,
VANADIUM, ZINC.
VOLATILE ORGANICS. 1,1,1-TRICHLOROETHANE,
CYCLOHEXANE, CARBON TETRACHLORIDE, BENZENE,
CYCLOHEXENE, n-HEPTANE (n-C7), 1,2-
DICHLORPROPANE, TRICHLOROETHANE, 1,4-DIOXANE
METHYCYCLOHEXANE, METHYLISOBUTYLKETONE, TOLUENE,
n-OCTANE (n-C8), TETRACHLOROETHANE,
CHLOROBENZENE, ETHLYBENZENE, PARA-XYLENE,
BROMOFORM, STYRENE, o-XYLENE, n-NONENE, n-NONANE
(n-C9), 1,1,2,2-TETRACHLOROETHANE, CUMENE,
MESITYLENE, ALPH-METHYLSTYRENE, 1,3-
DICHLOROBENZENE, 1,4-DICHLOROBENZENE, 1.2-
DICHLOROBENZENE, BENZYL CHLORIDE, APLPHA-TERPINE,
D-LIMONENE, 4-TERT-BUTYLTOLUENE, 1,1,4-
TRICHLOROBENZENE, NAPHTHALENE, 4-
PHENYLCYCLOHEXENE, n-DECANE (n-C100, n-DECENE, n-
UNDECENE, n-UNDECENE, (n-C11), n-NONANAL,
n-DODECANE (n-C12), n-TRIDECANE (n-C13), n-
TETRADECANE (n-C14), n-PENTANE (n-C15), n-
HEXADECANE (n-C16).
OTHERS. FORMALDEHYDE AND SULFUR DIOXIDE.
PARTICULATE CONCENTRATION. THIS MEASURE REFERS TO THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF
SMOKE PARTICLES--MOSTLY SOOT--THAT IS SUSPENDED IN THE AIR. IT IS EXPRESSED
IN MICROGRAMS PER CUBIC METER. THE US STANDARD FOR BOTH DAILY AND
ANNUAL AVERAGE PARTICULATE CONCENTRATIONS IS 150 MICROGRAMS PER CUBIC
METER.
PARTICULATE DEPOSITION. THIS MEASURE REFERS TO HOW MUCH SOOT IS
DEPOSITED ON THE GROUND. ILE DEPOSITION IS EXPRESSED IN GRAMS PER
SQUARE METER. NO REGULATORY STANDARD HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR
ACCEPTABLE LEVELS.
VALUES ACCORDING TO TWO SCENARIOS FOR
EXTINGUISHING THE BLAZES:
IN THE MAIN SCENARIO, FIREFIGHTING EFFORTS ARE JUDGED TO TAKE ONE YEAR.
FIFTY PERCENT OF THE FIRES WOULD BE PUT OUT BY SEPTEMBER 1991 AND THE
REMAINING 50 PERCENT WOULD TAKE ANOTHER EIGHT MONTHS TO EXTINGUISH.
IN THE ALTERNATE SCENARIO, TWO YEARS ARE NEEDED TO PUT OUT THE FIRES.
FORTY PERCENT WOULD BE EXTINGUISHED BY NOVEMBER 1991, 88 PERCENT
WOULD BE OUT BY NOVEMBER 1992, AND THE REMAINING WELLS WOULD BE
CONTROLLED BY MAY 1993.
THE MAIN SCENARIO
OVERALL TRENDS MAJOR DIFFERENCES IN POLLUTION
LEVELS BY REGION AND BY SEASON. HARDEST HIT WILL BE KUWAIT AND NORTHERN SAUDI
ARABIA. IN THESE AREAS, LATE SUMMER IS LIKELY TO SEE A WORSENING OF POLLUTION
LEVELS AS TEMPERATURE INVERSIONS TRAP THE SUBSTANCES NEAR THE GROUND.
GENERALLY, AS DISTANCE FROM KUWAIT INCREASES AND THE PLUME BECOMES MORE
DILUTE, POLLUTION LEVELS DROP. SEASONAL WEATHER PATTERNS, HOWEVER,
OCCASIONALLY CAUSE UPSWINGS IN POLLUTION EVEN IN REMOTE AREAS.
HARDEST HIT AREAS. IN THESE AREAS, THE HIGH END OF THE PROJECTED
POLLUTANT CONCENTRATIONS WILL REGULARLY EXCEED US NATIONAL AIR QUALITY
STANDARDS. IN KUWAIT CITY, A FEW BAD DAYS ARE PROJECTED TO EXPERIENCE SULFUR
DIOXIDE CONCENTRATION LEVELS OVER 10 TIMES HIGHER THAN THE ACCEPTABLE US DAILY
AVERAGE. OVER THE ENTIRE THE 14 MONTHS BETWEEN I MARCH 1991 AND I MAY
1992, HOWEVER, ONLY ABOUT 30 DAYS ARE PROJECTED TO EXCEED THE US STANDARD.
IN MINA AL AHMADI-IN THE HEART OF THE GREATER AL BURQAN OILFIELD-THE MOST
POLLUTED DAYS WILL BE FAR WORSE THAN IN KUWAIT CITY, WITH ABOUT A DOZEN DAYS
HAVING AVERAGE SULFUR DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS THAT COULD EXCEED 10,000
MICROGRAMS PER CUBIC METER AND ABOUT 80 DAYS THAT COULD EXCEED THE US DAILY
STANDARD. IN KUWAIT, PARTICULATE CONCENTRATIONS IN SOME COMMUNITIES AND
OILFIELDS ARE PROJECTED TO BE 100 TIMES HIGHER THAN US STANDARDS ON SOME DAYS.
KUWAIT CITY, AL AHMADI, AND MINA ABD ALLAH WILL HAVE OVER 100 DAYS THAT
WILL NOT MEET US AIR QUALITY STANDARDS FOR PARTICULATES. IN SAUDI ARABIA,
QUALITY WILL NOT MEET US STANDARDS FOR PARTICULATES ON 93 DAYS.
THE HARDEST HIT AREAS ARE PROJECTED TO RECEIVE SUBSTANTIAL TOTAL DEPOSITS
OF SULFUR AND SOOT ON THE GROUND. DEPOSITION OF SULFUR DIOXIDE IN KHAIJI WILL
TOTAL 48.9 GRAMS PER SQUARE METER. IN THE SOUTHERN AL BURQAN OILFIELD, 182
GRAMS OF SOOT PER SQUARE METER WILL SETTLE ON THE SURFACE, THE GREATEST AMOUNT
PROJECTED          ANYWHERE.
THE POLLUTION LEVEL WILL VARY BY SEASON AS A RESULT OF CHANGING WEATHER.
PATTERNS AND A GRADUAL EXTINGUISHMENT OF THE FIRES:
FROM MARCH THROUGH APRIL 1991, THE SMOKE WAS PRODUCED BY THE FULL
COMPLEMENT OF BURNING WELLS AND A FEW DAYS IN MARCH 1991 WERE AMONG
THE WORST THAT WILL OCCUR.
THROUGH JULY 1991, THE AMOUNT OF SMOKE WILL BE CUT QUICKLY AS FIRES ARE
EXTINGUISHED, BUT WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL AGGRAVATE POLLUTION PROBLEMS.
ALTHOUGH BRISK WINDS FROM THE NORTH AND NORTHWEST WILL KEEP KUWAIT'S
COASTAL COMMUNITIES LARGELY FREE OF SMOKE, IT WILL BUILD UP ON CALM DAYS.
THIS PROBLEM, COMBINED WITH NIGHTTIME TEMPERATURE INVERSIONS--WHICH
TYPICALLY TRAP POLLUTANTS NEAR THE GROUND--WILL RESULT IN SEVERAL DAY'S
WORTH OF SMOKE ACCUMULATING IN KUWAIT'S COASTAL REGION, GENERATING
SEVERE POLLUTION.
FROM AUGUST THROUGH OCTOBER, AIR POLLUTION WILL SHARPLY INCREASE EVEN
THOUGH 45 PERCENT OF THE FIRES WILL BE OUT. WINDS IN THE REGION DIE
DOWN, AND BOTH DAY AND NIGHTTIME TEMPERATURE INVERSIONS WILL KEEP THE
POLLUTANTS CLOSE TO THE GROUND. OCTOBER SMOKE CONDITIONS IN KUWAIT WILL
BE THE WORST OF THE YEAR. ABOUT TWO-THIRDS OF THE DAYS PROJECTED TO
EXCEED US STANDARDS FOR SULFUR DIOXIDE IN KUWAIT CITY WILL OCCUR IN THE
FALL.
AFTER JANUARY, PROBLEMS TAPER OFF RAPIDLY. THE AMOUNT OF SMOKE
PRODUCED WILL BE FAR REDUCED AND BRISK WINDS WILL DISPERSE IT QUICKLY.
MODERATELY AFFECTED AREAS. THE MODERATELY AFFECTED AREAS WILL
STRETCH FROM THE DELTA OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER IN IRAQ-AND ADJACENT PARTS OF
IRAN--SOUTH ACROSS THE PERSIAN GULF ALMOST TO ABU DHABI AND WILL EXTEND INLAND
IN SAUDI ARABIA TOWARDS RIYADH. SULFUR DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS WILL
OCCASIONALLY REACH LEVELS THAT EXCEED US STANDARDS BUT, FOR THE MOST PART, WILL
REMAIN WELL WITHIN THEM. PARTICULATE LEVELS, HOWEVER, WILL REGULARLY EXCEED
US STANDARDS, OFTEN BY WIDE MARGINS. FOR AREAS IN IRAQ JUST NORTHEAST OF
KUWAIT,          PROJECTS PEAKS OF AROUND 3,000 MICROGRAMS PER CUBIC METER
OF WILL HAVE 15 DAYS WITH SULFUR DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS
EXCEEDING 365 MICROGRAMS PER CUBIC METER AND UMM QASR 24. ALONG THE
COAST TO THE SOUTH, IN AL JUBAYL AND DHAHRAN, THE CONCENTRATION LEVEL ONLY
OCCASIONALLY WILL EXCEED US DAILY STANDARDS. IN IRAQ, NEAR THE KUWAITI BORDER,
PARTICULATES WILL REGULARLY RISE TO LEVELS 20 TIMES GREATER THAN US STANDARDS
WHILE IN AL JUBAYL AND DHAHRAN PARTICULATES WILL BE FOUR OR FIVE TIMES HIGHER
THAN US STANDARDS. SAUDI ARABIA FROM DHAHRAN NORTH WILL RECEIVE AS MUCH AS
3.0 GRAMS PER SQUARE METER OF SO2 (15 KILOGRAMS OF SULFUR PER HECTARE) BY
MAY 1992, CLOSE TO THE CRITICAL LOAD. IRAN WILL RECEIVE UP TO 1 GRAM OF SULFUR
DIOXIDE DEPOSITION (5 KILOGRAMS OF PURE SULFUR PER HECTARE) AS FAR AS 250
KILOMETERS INLAND FROM THE GULF COAST.
THE POLLUTION WILL HIT DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE MODERATELY AFFECTED REGION
AT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE YEAR:
FROM JUNE THROUGH AUGUST, THE INCREASINGLY BRISK WINDS FROM THE NORTH
AND NORTHWEST WILL CARRY SMOKE DOWN THE SAUDI COAST, WHILE AREAS NORTH
OF KUWAIT WILL BE FREE OF SMOKE. JUNE AND JULY WILL BE WORSE MONTHS
FOR AL JUBAYL, DHAHRAN, AND MANAMA THAN APRIL AND MAY WERE.
FROM SEPTEMBER THROUGH NOVEMBER, WINDS WILL OCCASIONALLY TRANSPORT
SMOKE TOWARD IRAQ AND IRAN, ALTHOUGH MUCH OF IT WILL STILL MOVE
SOUTHWARD.
FROM DECEMBER THROUGH FEBRUARY, A LARGER SHARE OF THE SMOKE WILL
TRAVEL TOWARDS IRAQ AND IRAN THAN AT ANY TIME OF YEAR. BECAUSE SO MANY
FIRES SHOULD BE EXTINGUISHED BY THE END OF JANUARY, HOWEVER, THE
SMOKE'S CONCENTRATION WILL BE FAINT.
FROM MARCH THROUGH MAY, AREAS TO THE NORTH OF KUWAIT ARE GENERALLY
UPWIND OF THE SMOKE. MOST SMOKE WILL MOVE TO THE SOUTHEAST, ALMOST
PARALLEL WITH THE SAUDI COASTLINE. PASSING HIGH AND LOW PRESSURE CELLS ARE
ACCOMPANIED BY WINDS THAT SWING AROUND THE COMPASS, HOWEVER, WHICH
OCCASIONALLY WILL BLOW SMOKE TOWARD IRAN AND IRAQ.
BLACK RAIN: WHAT THE PRESS REPORTS
PRESS REPORTING ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THE KUWAITI OIL FIRE
SMOKE INCLUDES MANY REPORTS OF BLACK RAIN AND ALWAYS ATTRIBUTES IT TO THE
SMOKE FROM THE OIL FIRES. THE FIRST BLACK RAIN REPORTED IN THE PRESS OCCURRED
ON 22 JANUARY IN BUSHEHR, A COASTAL COMMUNITY IN IRAN ACROSS THE GULF FROM
KUWAIT. SINCE THEN, BLACK RAIN HAS BEEN FREQUENTLY REPORTED IN WESTERN
IRAN. BLACK RAIN ATTRIBUTED TO SMOKE FROM KUWAIT HAS ALSO BEEN REPORTED IN
KUWAIT, TURKEY, AND ETHIOPIA. REFERENCE HAS ALSO BEEN MADE IN THE PRESS
TO BLACK RAIN IN SYRIA AND AFGHANISTAN.
BLACK SNOW HAS BEEN REPORTED TWICE, FIRST IN MID-MARCH IN SOUTHWESTERN
IRAN AND THEN IN EARLY APRIL IN THE HIMALAYAS.
SLIGHTLY AFFECTED AREAS. THE OIL FIRE SMOKE WILL TRAVEL FAR BEYOND THE
PERSIAN GULF REGION, ITS MOVEMENT BROADLY CONTROLLED BY LARGE ATMOSPHERIC
PRESSURE AND CIRCULATION PATTERNS THAT WILL ENTRAIN THE SMOKE AND TRANSPORT IT
GREAT DISTANCES. BECAUSE THE SMOKE CONCENTRATIONS DROP SO QUICKLY, US
STANDARDS WILL NOT BE EXCEEDED AND MOST OF SAUDI ARABIA, IRAQ, AND IRAN WILL
BE SLIGHTLY AFFECTED. THE SMOKE'S TOTAL IMPACT SHOULD BE SLIGHT AS IT SWINGS
ACROSS THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, OVER IRAQ, IRAN, AND THE INDIAN OCEAN, AND INTO
CENTRAL AND SOUTHEASTERN ASIA. BY MAY 1992, IRAN WILL HAVE RECEIVED OVER 100
MILLIGRAMS OF SULFUR DIOXIDE PER SQUARE METER AND ANOTHER 100 MILLIGRAMS OF
PARTICULATES PER SQUARE METER ALONG ITS NORTHERN AND EASTERN BORDERS. INDIA ALSO
WILL RECEIVE AS MUCH AS 100 MILLIGRAMS OF SULFUR DIOXIDE PER SQUARE METER BY
MAY 1992.
IMPACT ON HEALTH AND CROPS
PROJECTED POLLUTION LEVELS TO DETERMINE THE SMOKE'S
IMPACT ON HEALTH. RELIABLE US EPIDEMIOLOGICAL STUDIES HAVE ESTABLISHED THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SULFUR DIOXIDE AND PARTICULATE LEVELS AND MORBIDITYa
AND MORTALITY. THESE STUDIES PROVIDE THE BASIS FOR THE MODEL'S FINDINGS THAT
IN AREAS IN KUWAIT AND NEIGHBORING PARTS OF SAUDI ARABIA, SULFUR DIOXIDE
AND PARTICULATES WILL BE GREAT ENOUGH TO RESULT IN ILLNESS AND EVEN DEATH. IN
KUWAIT CITY, A MORBIDITY RATE OF 7,600 PER 100,000 PEOPLE AND A MORTALITY
RATE OF 580 PER 100,000 ARE PROJECTED. IN AL AHMADI, OVER 25,000 PER
100,000 WILL BECOME ILL WHILE 2,000 PER 100,000 WILL DIE. BEYOND KUWAIT,
ONLY KHAFJI WILL FACE SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED ILLNESS BECAUSE OF THE SMOKE.
a ILLNESSES SEVERE ENOUGH SO THAT IN AN INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY, THE PATIENT WOULD 
SEEK A DOCTOR'S CARE.
SEASONAL DEPOSITION PATTERNS WILL VARY:
THROUGH JULY, THE PERSIAN GULF AND ARABIAN PENINSULA WILL BEAR THE
BRUNT OF THE POLLUTANTS FROM THE SMOKE. THE PLUME WILL DEGRADE AIR
QUALITY OF RIYADH, JEDDAH, AND MECCA MORE DURING THE SUMMER THAN AT
ANY OTHER TIME OF YEAR. AS THE SMOKE TRAVELS EAST IT WILL PASS OVER OMAN
AND YEMEN AND WILL CROSS THE ARABIAN SEA AND PASS OVER INDIA IN A BROAD
SWATH. THE MONSOON WILL CARRY POLLUTION OVER THE MMALAYAS AND EVEN
LHASA WILL PROBABLY SEE A FEW DAYS WITH TRAR-ES OF KUWAITI SULFUR DIOXIDE
AND SOOT.
FROM AUGUST THROUGH OCTOBER, THE WIND WILL CARRY SMOKE INTO SAUDI
ARABIA AND DEEPLY INTO ASIA. SOME SMOKE WILL ALSO TRAVEL EASTWARD OVER
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN IRAN. BY THE END OF OCTOBER, SMOKE FROM KUWAIT
WILL BE REACHING WELL INTO SOVIET CENTRAL ASIA.
FROM NOVEMBER THROUGH JANUARY, CITIES IN THE EASTERN ARABIAN PENINSULA
AS FAR AS MUSCAT WILL EXPERIENCE SLIGHTLY ELEVATED LEVELS OF SO6T AS WINDS
BLOW TOWARD THE SOUTHEAST. WINDS FROM THE SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST--
TYPICALLY PRECEDING THE ARRIVAL OF STORM SYSTEMS--WILL CARRY SMOKE INTO
IRAQ AND UP THE VALLEY OF THE TIGRIS RIVER INTO. EASTERN TURKEY. AR OF
IRAN--AFTER A BREAK FROM THE SMOKE OVER THE SUMMER AND EARLY FALL--WIR
AGAIN BE SUBJECT TO KUWAITI OIL FIRE SMOKE IN NOVEMBER, WHEN WINDS
FROM THE WEST CARRY THE PLUME ACROSS IT TOWARD PALDSTAN AND NORTHERN
INDIA. KARACHI WILL SEE A SPIKE IN ITS PARTICULATE COUNT AS OIL SMOKE
REACHES IT IN NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER BUT THE SMOKE WILL BE DILUTE BY
THE TIME IT REACHES PALDSTAN.
FROM FEBRUARY THROUGH APRIL WINDS ACCOMPANYING PASSING STORMS WILL
CONTINUE TO CARRY SMOKE UP THE TIGRIS RIVER VALLEY IN IRAQ INTO TURKEY,
ACROSS IRAN, AND SWEEP SMOKE ACROSS EASTERN SAUDI ARABIA TO ETHIOPIA
AND SOMALIA.
ASSESSING THE CANCER RISK
ESTIMATES OF CANCER RISK FROM THE SMOKE ARE MORE DIFFICULT TO MAKE,
THAN PROJECTIONS OF MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY. THE STANDARD STUDIES THAT
PROVIDE THE BASIS FOR ASSESSING THE CANCER RISK ARE NOT EXACTLY APPLICABLE--
THEY LOOK AT EXPOSURE OVER MANY YEARS TO LOW LEVELS OF POLLUTANTS WHILE
PEOPLE IN KUWAIT WILL BE E@POSED TO A BRIEF PERIOD OF EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH
POLLUTION. ALL THAT IS KNOWN FOR SURE IS THAT IN THE BASELINE STUDIES-
ASSUMING A 70-YEAR LIFESPAN-AFTER AN EXPOSURE THRESHOLD IS REACHED, A
CERTAIN NUMBER OF PEOPLE WILL DEVELOP CANCER 10 TO 25 YEARS LATER. THE
ESTIMATES OF THE CANCER RISK FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF ACADEMIC EXPERTS
IN ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EPIDEMIOLOGY, WHO RECOMMEND
USING CONVENTIONAL EXPOSURE LEVELS SINCE THERE IS NO SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE.
ON THE BASIS OF THESE STUDIES, LONG-TERM CANCER
RISKS WILL RISE IN KUWAIT AND NORTHERN SAUDI ARABIA. AL AHMADI AND MINA
ABD ALLAH SHOW THE HIGHEST INCREASES--OVER 10,000 CASES PER 100,000--
WHILE KUWAIT CITY AND KHAFJI ARE ROUGHLY COMPARABLE--RISING BY AROUND
3,000 CASES PER 100,000. OTHER CITIES DOWN THE SAUDI ROAST WOULD SEE
MODERATE INCREASES IN THE CANCER RISK--AROUND 200 ADDITIONAL CASES PER
100,000.b
THE GREATEST THREAT COMES FROM THE SMALLEST PARTICLES. AMONG THEM,
THE ONES OF MOST CONCERN ARE POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS (PAH).C
LESS THAN 10 MICRONS IN SIZE, THEY ARE INHALED DEEP INTO THE LUNGS BUT ARE
SLOW TO BE CLEARED FROM THEM. ONE PAH PARTICLE, BENZO(a)PYRENE--BAP--IS
A WELL-STUDIED CARCINOGEN.
b FOR PURPOSES OF COMPARISON, THE BASELINE CANCER RISK IN THE UNITED STATES IS
CONSIDERED TO BE 25,000 PER 100,000.
c PAH ARE OFTEN CALLED PM10, SHORT FOR PARTICULATE MATTER LESS THAN 10 MICRONS IN
DIAMETER.
POLLUTION LEVELS
SLOWER PROGRESS IN PUTTING OUT THE FIRES WOULD HAVE PRONOUNCED IMPACT
IN THE HARDEST HIT REGION. IN THAT AREA, THE NUMBER OF DAYS WITH POOR AIR
QUALITY BECAUSE OF BOTH SULFUR DIOXIDE AND PARTICULATES WOULD GO UP. THE TOTAL
NUMBER OF DAYS EXCEEDING US AIR QUALITY STANDARDS FOR SULFUR DIOXIDE
CONCENTRATION WOULD INCREASE ABOUT 40 PERCENT COMPARED TO THE MAIN ONE-YEAR
SCENARIO, WITH MOST OF THE ADDITIONAL DAYS OCCUR-ZING IN THE FIRST YEAR. IN
KUWAIT CITY, FOR EXAMPLE, EPA STANDARDS FOR SULFUR DIOXIDE LEVELS WOULD BE
EXCEEDED ON 40 DAYS RATHER THAN 30 IN THE FIRST YEAR, AND THREE DAYS IN THE
SECOND YEAR. IN THE SAME PLACE, THE NUMBER OF DAYS EXCEEDING ACCEPTABLE
PARTICULATE STANDARDS WOULD INCREASE ABOUT 25 PERCENT, WITH 141 DAYS
SURPASSING EPA STANDARDS RATHER THAN THE 133 DAYS OF THE MAIN SCENARIO, AND
25 DAYS SURPASSING THE STANDARDS IN THE SECOND YEAR. IN KHAFJI, TO THE SOUTH,
THE NUMBER OF DAYS EXCEEDING THE STANDARD FOR PARTICULATES WOULD SURGE OVER
70 PERCENT WITH 114 DAYS OVER THE LIMIT IN THE FIRST YEAR COMPARED TO 93, AND
46 DAYS IN THE SECOND.
IN THE MODERATELY AND SLIGHTLY AFFECTED AREAS, THE IMPACT OF SLOWER
PROGRESS ON THE NUMBER OF DAYS WITH SUBSTANDARD AIR DUE TO SULFUR DIOXIDE
WOULD BE NEGLIGIBLE, BUT THE NUMBER OF DAYS WITH ELEVATED PARTICULATE LEVELS
WOULD INCREASE SUBSTANTIALLY. IN DHAHRAN, FOR EXAMPLE, THE TOTAL NUMBER OF
DAYS FAILING TO MEET US STANDARDS FOR PARTICULATES WOULD ALMOST DOUBLE, WITH
56 DAYS INSTEAD OF 37 IN THE FIRST YEAR, AND 15 DAYS IN THE SECOND YEAR. IN
TEHRAN, PARTICULATE LEVELS WOULD EXCEED US STANDARDS FOR 13 DAYS, VERSUS NINE
DAYS IN THE MAIN SCENARIO.
PROBLEMS IN ALL AREAS WOULD BE WORSE IF FIREFIGHTING DELAYS ARE
ENCOUNTERED DURING THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. BECAUSE CALM WINDS AND TEMPERATURE
INVERSIONS IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER AGGRAVATE AIR POLLUTION, FIREFIGHTING EFFORTS
IN THE EARLY SUMMER OF 1991 WILL BE CRITICAL. IF UNFORESEEN EVENTS SIGNIFICANTLY
SLOW THE FIREFIGHTING EFFORT DURING THAT PERIOD, SULFUR DIOXIDE AND PARTICULATE
CONCENTRATIONS IN THE HARDEST HIT AREAS WOULD ESCALATE BEYOND THE LEVELS
PROJECTED FOR LATE SUMMER IN OUR MAIN SCENARIO. MODERATELY AND SLIGHTLY
AFFECTED AREAS WOULD SEE THEIR AIR QUALITY PLUMMET AS WELL, WITH SMOKE
PARTICLES CAUSING THE  NUMBER OF DAYS THAT  WOULD NOT MEET US STANDARDS TO LEAP
UPWARD.
LOOKING AHEAD
ACTUAL POLLUTION LEVELS AND THEIR IMPACT ON HEALTH AND CROPS MAY
DIFFER FROM THE          PROJECTIONS. THREE TYPES OF DATA THAT WILL BECOME AVAILABLE
OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS WILL PROVIDE IMPORTANT SIGNALS:
ACTUAL WEATHER DATA IN THE SUMMER AND FALL. IN 1991 THE WEATHER MAY
DIFFER SIGNIFICANTLY FROM THE TYPICAL YEARLY PATTERN
FURTHERMORE, THE FIRES AND PLUME COULD SUBSTANTIALLY ALTER LOCAL
CONDITIONS. IN A WORST CASE SCENARIO, ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTISTS INDICATE THAT,
WITHOUT WIND, THE POLLUTION COULD BUILD UP SO MUCH THAT THE GROUND
WOULD BE SHADED AND LOW INVERSIONS WOULD PERSIST THROUGH THE DAY. IN
THAT CASE, SULFUR DIOXIDE AND PARTICULATE LEVELS WOULD RISE. ALTERNATIVELY,
IF WINDS ARE BRISKER THAN TYPICAL, SMOKE CONDITIONS WOULD IMPROVE IN THE
HARDEST HIT REGION AND WORSEN IN THE MODERATELY AFFECTED AREAS.
AIR SAMPLES FROM THE PLUME.
ACTUAL MEASUREMENTS OF PARTICULATE AND SULFUR
DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS MAY EXCEED OR FALL SHORT OF THOSE PROJECTED BY THE
MODEL.
ACTUAL MEDICAL DATA.          PROJECTIONS OF HEALTH EFFECTS
ON STANDARD WESTERN EPIDEMIOLOGICAL STUDIES THAT MAY NOT REPLICATE BASIC
HEALTH LEVELS IN KUWAIT. IN PARTICULAR, BECAUSE THE GENERAL POPULATION IN
KUWAIT IS ALREADY SUBJECT TO RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS STEMMING FROM
NATURALLY HIGH LEVELS OF DUST, SOME SCIENTISTS BELIEVE THAT ADDITIONAL
PARTICULATES COULD HAVE A GREATER IMPACT THAN PROJECTED
WHY THE EXPERTS DISAGREE ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
DECISIONS THAT ARE MADE WHEN FIRST SETTING THE PARAMETERS
CAN CAUSE MAJOR DIVERGENCES IN THE FINAL RESULTS. SOME OF THE KEY
PARAMETERS THAT ARE SET BASED ON ASSUMPTIONS RATHER THAN CURRENT
MEASUREMENTS INCLUDE:
HOW MUCH OIL IS BURNING? THIS IS DIFFICULT
TO DETERMINE BUT IT OBVIOUSLY INFLUENCES
CONCLUSIONS ABOUT MUCH POLLUTION IS BEING
PRODUCED.
HOW MUCH SOOT IS BEING PRODUCED BY THE
BURNING CRUDE OIL? ESTIMATES DIFFER, PARTLY
BECAUSE FULLY COMPARABLE CONDITIONS HAVE NOT
BEEN REPRODUCED IN THE LABORATORY.
HOW HIGH IS SMOKE RISING. JUDGING THIS
DEPENDS PARTLY ON DECIDING WHAT WEATHER
STATISTICS TO USE AND HOW TO SUMMARIZE THEM.
JUDGMENT CALLS HAVE TO BE MADE ON HOW STABLE
THE AIR IS AND HOW PERSISTENT TEMPERATURE
INVERSIONS ARE.
1.5(C)
72224-72224
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