Iraqi Dam Seen in Danger of Deadly Collapse

The Washington Post recently covered the potential fatal collapse of the Mosul Dam in Iraq and the immanent threat that looms there due to its degradation.  Considered the most dangerous dam in the world by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this structure could potentially unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water if it breaks.  This puts the spotlight on the danger of dams and the power of their destruction if not maintained properly, or removed appropriately prior to failure.


Photo courtesy of The Army Corps of Engineers/Washington Post  

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Foreign Service

The largest dam in Iraq is in serious danger of an imminent collapse that could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing thousands of people and flooding two of the largest cities in the country, according to new assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

Even in a country gripped by daily bloodshed, the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam has alarmed American officials, who have concluded that it could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet, said Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub, the dam manager. “The Mosul dam is judged to have an unacceptable annual failure probability,” in the dry wording of an Army Corps of Engineers draft report.

At the same time, a U.S. reconstruction project to help shore up the dam in northern Iraq has been marred by incompetence and mismanagement, according to Iraqi officials and a report by a U.S. oversight agency to be released Tuesday. The reconstruction project, worth at least $27 million, was not intended to be a permanent solution to the dam’s deficiencies.

“In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world,” the Army Corps concluded in September 2006, according to the report to be released Tuesday. “If a small problem [at] Mosul Dam occurs, failure is likely.”

To read the full story from the Washington Post, please click here.