US Says Mosul Dam faces serious risk of Collapse; Could Kill 1.4 Million

TeleSur | – –

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq warned its citizens to be ready to leave the country as the Mosul Dam faces a “serious and unprecedented” risk of bursting.

The U.S. Embassy to Iraq on Monday told its citizens to be ready to leave Iraq, warning the risk of the Mosul Dam collapsing is “serious and unprecedented” and could kill up to 1.4 million people living along the River Tigris.

Iraqi officials have sought to play down the risk but Washington urged its citizens to make contingency plans now.

A U.S. security message cited estimates that Mosul, which is northern Iraq’s largest city and under control of Islamic State insurgents, could be inundated by as much as 70 feet (21 meters) of water within hours of the breach.

Cities downstream on the Tigris River such as Tikrit, Samarra and the Iraqi capital Baghdad could be inundated with smaller, but still significant levels within 24-72 hours.

“We have no specific information that indicates when a breach might occur, but out of an abundance of caution, we would like to underscore that prompt evacuation offers the most effective tool to save lives of the hundreds of thousands of people,” the security message said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sunday precautions were being taken, but described the likelihood of such a scenario as “extremely small.”

Islamic State seized the dam in August 2014, raising fears they might blow it up and unleash a wall of water on Mosul and Baghdad that could kill hundreds of thousands.



Related video added by Juan Cole:

AFP: ” Iraq contracts Italian firm to fix imperilled Mosul dam”

Posted in Iraq,Water | 4 Responses | Print |

4 Responses

  1. Really, a dam is suddenly facing collapse without prior engineering knowledge or warning, in a place that just happens to be a target, according to people who aren’t there and are probably planning to bomb it?

    This much appears to be a false scare with little attempt to make it plausible. To get people out of the path of a military sweep? A threat to bomb it to cut power in Mosul without regard for the loss of life or cost of rebuilding? This needs more than a little explanation.

    • There has been a lot of warning, this was written in 2007

      Mosul Dam, formerly known as Saddam Dam (Arabic: Sadd Saddam) is in danger of collapse. That’s because the dam was built on unstable bedrock of gypsum that requires a constant infusion of grout to prevent the foundation from eroding and the giant earthen wall from collapsing. Over the years, engineers have pumped into the foundation more than 50,000 tons of a bentonite, cement, water, and air mixture. As the Washington Post explains, “Twenty-four clanging machines churn 24 hours a day to pump grout deep into the dam’s base. And sinkholes form periodically as the gypsum dissolves beneath the structure.”

      link to

  2. It has been known for 30 years that the Mosul dam, one of the most ill-conceived of Saddam’s grandiose projects, was built on top of a layer porous gypsum and anhydrite. Completed in 1984, the dam began to leak in 1986 as water seeped into the porous, water-soluble rock beneath the dam’s foundation and created cavities, weakening the structure. From then on it required constant ongoing maintenance to fill the caverns being hollowed out by water running through the soluble bedrock. A total of 95,000 tons of grout of different types were used over the dam’s lifetime. In the summer of 2014, when ISIS/Daesh forces overran the area, the engineers maintaining the dam with injections of grout fled. Although Baghdad’s forces later regained control of the dam itself, the front lines are nearby and maintenance has not been resumed. Engineers now warn that the dam may be on the verge of collapse. For more see here:
    link to

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