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File: 970613_dsa180a_91d_txt_0001.txt
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(b.2.)

SERIAL:  DSA 180A-91

/*********** THIS IS A COMBINED MESSAGE ************/
SUBJECT:  IRAQ-KUWAIT:  SITUATION UPDATE
  
DOI:  23 FEB 91 (AS OF 0100 EST)
))
MAJOR POINTS
(b.1. sec. 1.5.c.)
2.      IRAQI FORCES HAVE CREATED SIGNIFICANT TACTICAL AND
ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS IN THEIR APPARENT EFFORTS TO DESTROY KUWAIT'S
OIL FACILITIES.
(b.1. sec. 1.5.c.)



6.      ON 21-22 FEBRUARY AT LEAST 145 OIL WELLS WERE IGNITED
THROUGHOUT KUWAIT.  COMMENT:  THE IRAQIS HAVE FOR SOME TIME BEEN
PREPARING DEMOLITIONS TO DESTROY KUWAITI OIL FACILITIES, PROBABLY AS
A DEFENSIVE MEASURE AGAINST COALITION ATTACK AND TO DEPRIVE KUWAITIS
OF THE OIL RESOURCE IN CASE OF WITHDRAWAL.  SADDAM'S DECISION TO
ORDER THE FIRES COULD HAVE BEEN PROMPTED BY OVERREACTION TO
COALITION STRIKES AND MAY SIGNAL A REALIZATION THAT KUWAIT UILL NOT
BE HELD.  REGARDLESS, THE FIRES, WITH THEIR TOXIC, OBSCURANT, AND
EXPLOSIVE EFFECTS, MAY COMPLICATE IRAQI AND COALITION OPERATIONS.
7.    IN ADDITION TO THE BLAST HAZARD ASSOCIATED WITH AN
EXPLODING WELL HEAD OR OIL TANK, BURNING OIL'CREATES CLOUDS OF
THICK, OILY, BLACK SMOKE; INTENSE HEAT; AND TOXIC FUMES AND GASES.
ALL THESE FACTORS ARE POTENTIALLY LETHAL TO TROOPS AND MAY IMPEDE
MANEUVER AND TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT OPERATIONS.  THE TOXICITY OF THE
BURNING KUWAITI OIL FIELDS IS AMPLIFIED BECAUSE OF THE HYDROGEN
SULFIDE-RICH CRUDE OIL THAT IS PREVALENT IN THIS REGION.  KNOWN AS
"SOUR GAS," HYDROGEN SULFIDE IS A HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, HEAVIER-THAN-AIR
GAS THAT IS HIGHLY TOXIC AND IS NORMALLY REMOVED DURING THE REFINING
PROCESS.  AN UNCAPPED WELL HAS THE POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE LETHAL CONCENTRATIONS OF HYDROGEN SULFIDE AT RANGES OF 1000 METERS DOWNWIND AND 100 METERS UPWIND.  AT LETHAL CONCENTRATIONS, HYDROGEN
SULFIDE GAS, AS WELL AS ANHYDROUS AMMONIA GAS WHICH IS ALSO
PRODUCED, CANNOT BE COUNTERED BY COALITION PROTECTIVE CLOTHING OR
GAS MASKS.  TACTICALLY, THE COMBINED IMPACT OF THE TOXIC FUMES AND
GASES; OILY, BLACK SMOKE; AND BROAD DISPERSION THROUGHOUT KUWAIT
PRESENTS A SIGNIFICANT MILITARY THREAT.  APART FROM ITS TACTICAL
EFFECTS, THE IMPACT OF THE IRAQI OIL DESTRUCTION WILL BE FELT
ECONOMICALLY AND ENVIRONMENTALLY FOR YEARS.

(b.1. sec. 1.5.c.)

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