The Threat of Intentional Oil Spills to Desalination Plants in the Middle East: A U.S. Security Threat
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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During the Gulf War, Iraq physically destroyed Kuwaiti desalination plants while they occupied the country. Iraq also conducted what was arguably the largest act of environmental terrorism in recent memory by releasing millions of gallons of oil into the sea, thereby threatening more desalination plants and other facilities in the region. The Institute for National Security Studies recognized the potential for this to happen again and listed this subject as one of their potential research topics for 1998. Specifically, what is the present vulnerability of Middle East desalination plants to potential acts of environmental terrorism in the form of oil spills and what can the Department of Defense DOD do to help With water scarcity already an issue dividing the regions security, threats to this rapidly growing source of fresh water is a threat to the security of the region itself. This paper first introduces the reader to this new security threat. Chapter two discusses water scarcity, the growing role of desalination, and the basics of desalination technology. Chapter three outlines the terrorist threat to Middle East water by covering both the known history and potential future threats. Chapter four examines why desalination plants are vulnerable to oil spills. Chapter five outlines spill response technologies and the DOD ability to cope with oil spills. Chapter six closes out the thesis with recommendations the U.S. can take to lessen the vulnerability of these plants to the threat of intentional oil spills and thus strengthen our national security in the region.
- Water Pollution and Control