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Thread: Mosul Dam May Collapse

  1. #1
    Council Member
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    Oct 2007

    Default Mosul Dam May Collapse

    By Voice of Iraq, posted on Iraq

    Edited Excerpts -


    Concerns, doubts over possible collapse of Mosul Dam


    Ninewa, 11 November 2007 (Voices of Iraq)

    The controversial issue of the Mosul Dam has come up to the surface again after reports warned of a possible imminent collapse threatening to flood about half a million Iraqis amidst arguments among government and political circles in this regard.

    Some believe that reports about this dam was sheer media hype that rests on no authentic geological data while others think the stakes were high about the dam collapse now that there were no accurate scientific measures adopted to provide maintenance services.

    The Washington Post's last week report said that the Iraqi government rejected the findings of a U.S. oversight panel that the dam, near the northern city of Mosul, was on the verge of a collapse that could cause flooding along the Tigris River "all the way to Baghdad."

    The possible collapse, the U.S. paper said, could unleash four billion cubic meters of water at one shot, which might kill thousands and submerge two of Iraq's largest cities by nearly 20 meters.

    Experts, however, said the geological nature of the terrain where the dam was built was unsuitable, being composed of salty rocks that melt under pressure. They believe that if the gaps formed in the rocks are not filled with a special kind of cement, there would be more threats posed to the dam.

    A geologist who had worked on the Mosul Dam project told VOI the amount of water that would flood from the dam if it collapsed is estimated by 660,000 cubic meters per second while the Tigris River water course can not stand discharging more than 3,500 cubic meters per second.

    "No one can predict when the dam might fall down. It could be today, tomorrow or in 30 years," he said.
    Built between 1980 and 1984 by a joint German-Italian corporation, the 113 meter high dam's life span was estimated to reach 80 years.

    Replying to the Washington Post report on the dam, Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, the official spokesman for the Iraqi government, said in a statement that his government has placed the dam under constant monitoring with all precautions and maintenance works provided.

    "Iraqi teams have been working round the clock to inject the dam base with concrete and fill in the gaps that resulted from the erosion of some rocks," Dabbagh said.

    The British newspaper The Independent said in a recent report that fears were growing about the collapse of the Mosul dam after its walls cracked.

    The paper, citing a report by a team of U.S. engineers working at the dam to the U.S. embassy in Iraq, said the dam had "irreparable essential flaws within its foundations."

    A post-collapse flood might harm more than 70% of the province of Ninewa and more than 399 km of areas like Tikrit, Samarra and the peripheries of Baghdad where the river Tigris runs.

    Brig. Muhammad Mahmoud Sulayman, the Ninewa civil defense department chief and a member of the flood committee set up by an order from the governor, revealed other dimensions of the dam problem of a service and economic nature after a technical panel recommended having it emptied.

    A disaster management official from the Red Crescent Society in the province spoke of hardships that relief operations may face for Mosul's 1.7 million residents who may be harmed by a possible first wave of flooding.

    "Sheltered areas to receive the evacuated are already located in the western and northern parts of the city, in addition to foodstuffs, tents and medical services, provided in association with the civil defense department," the official told VOI.

    A possible first wave will take three hours to reach Mosul, as indicated by civil defense sources, which is very little time to help a population of 1.7 million, he explained.

    The Badosh dam, located between the Mosul dam and the city and in which works started in the late 1980s and stopped in the mid-1990s, was mainly built to withstand a first wave of flooding if the Mosul dam collapsed and to receive flowing water for a period of nine hours.


    A collapse of the Mosul Dam and the resulting disorder and humanitarian crisis would be one of the last things anyone in the Tigris River Valley needs. It is practically inconceivable that troops, equipment, and supplies could be provide in sufficient quantity in sufficient time to prevent things from getting vey bad, very fast. Kurdish units and formations of the Iraqi Armed Forces and the Police would likely be withdrawn from counter-insurgency missions in order to shore up the situation in the Kurdish Region.

    With up to 20 m (according to the article, but I may be misreading this - 20 m sounds terribly high) of water in cities such as Mosul and Baghdad, relief operations would be extremely difficult, and in areas such as Tikrit, possibly even more dangerous.

  2. #2
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Carlisle, PA


    Of course if it doesn't collapse, Iraqis are going to accuse us of lying to them for some ulterior reason. And if it does, they're going to accuse us of not fixing it so as to kill their people.
    Last edited by SteveMetz; 11-11-2007 at 06:42 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    Nov 2007


    We had a guy come in and survey this dam in 2004' saying the same thing..."It is just a matter of time."

    In spite of this info being well disseminated to both U.S. and Iraqi authorities, no one seems to care.

  4. #4
    Registered User Stone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Ft Lee


    I remember doing a tour in Mosul (Diamondback) and was required to have an exit plan for my troops in case the dam failed. We figured surfing was our only option.
    If you've seen the quality of workmanship on construction projects (or anything else) in that part of the world, you would not be surprised.


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