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Kuwait environmental remediation program - overview

Author: 
Nada Al-Qallaf, Aisha Al-Baroud and Hussain Al-Kandari
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

During the Gulf War in 1990-91, more than 700 oil wells in Kuwait were ignited, leading to the largest environmental and ecological disaster in Kuwait’s history. The damaged oil wells spilled crude oil across the land surface and created ‘Oil lakes’ in low lying land. These oil lakes affected approximately 114 km2 of land in the northern and southern oil fields of Kuwait. The crude oil released has negative short-term and long-term impact on the physical characteristics of the soil, vegetation, and wildlife, threatening precious groundwater resources. These oil lakes are mostly dry in nature. Some features, however, still contain semi-liquid, and oil/sludgy material and are referred to as wet oil lakes. Today, over 29 years since the oil fires, these contaminated features (~26 million cubic meters of heavily oil contaminated soils) still exist in KOC oil field areas. The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) awarded monetary funds to the State of Kuwait as per its Decision 258 guidelines to establish the follow-up program to monitor the technical and financial progress of the environmental remediation works of contaminated soil resulting from the Iraqi Aggression and 1991 Gulf War. In addition, in June 2006 the Government of Kuwait formed the Kuwait National Focal Point (KNFP) with authority to plan and supervise the implementation of projects and act as a liaison between UNCC and affected parties/stakeholders (e.g. KOC) for KERP program. In order to efficiently remediate the contaminated soil, the Total Remediation Strategy (TRS) was developed as more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to replace the initial strategy, which required construction of a large number of landfills. The implementation of the TRS will ensure remediation through more sustainable environmental approaches, including a variety of treatment options, recovery/re-use and use of the Risk Based Approach (RBA) on the majority of these materials, thereby reducing the number of landfills. The TRS comprises alternative remedial solutions and relies on treating ranges of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) contamination levels with the most appropriate remediation techniques.

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