Kuwait to clean up toxic oil lakes
Two decades after Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and set fire to its oilfields, the emirate is finally coming to grips with the task of cleaning up the toxic oil lakes left behind.
Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), the state oil and gas operator, has approached international consultants about master-managing a project to repair environmental damage from the 1990-91 Gulf War.
After appearing to drag its feet for more years, KOC has now set a February 1 deadline for international consultants to submit prequalification documents. As of this week, they are available from the company's head office in the Al Ahmadi industrial area south of Kuwait City.
KOC controls access to the contaminated land in northern Kuwait, which the government has designated as a restricted area.
It is the emirate's second serious shot at rehabilitating some 100 square kilometres of northern Kuwait that are dotted with more than 2,400 "lakes" filled with dirty oil and concentrated salt residues mixed with sand.
Kuwait National Focal Point (KNFP), a committee established four years ago to supervise the execution of environmental projects in the emirate, tendered a similar contract in 2007, but failed to award it.
The oil lakes formed after fire crews used seawater to douse hundreds of torched oil wells. Their contents have seeped into the ground, polluting freshwater aquifers and killing off flora and fauna in the delicate desert ecosystem. Mines and other unexploded ordinance lurk beneath the toxic sludge to booby-trap unwary clean-up crews.
Published: December 21, 2010 04:00 AM