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Disuse and abuse found at renovated Iraqi facilities

A U.S. survey of eight sites finds most are in need of maintenance.

April 29, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A severe lack of maintenance appears to be threatening the future usefulness of some of the facilities renovated in Iraq, says a new report from the U.S. inspector general monitoring reconstruction.

Inspectors reviewed eight facilities across the country -- including police stations, a military base, a hospital and a recruiting center -- to determine whether the buildings were operating at full capacity. They generally found that the facilities met their given objectives, but also noted signs of deterioration at most sites.

For example, at a recruiting center in Hillah, inspectors found bathrooms with floors buckled by what appeared to be sewage backups, makeshift electrical wiring and sewage holding tanks that haven't been evacuated because concrete barriers blocked access to the rear of the building, where the tanks are located. The inspectors concluded that the life of the facility would be significantly shortened if the problems were left unresolved.

At a maternity and pediatric hospital in Irbil, inspectors found a sewer system that was occasionally clogged, possibly as a result of improper disposal of large amounts of medical waste. Inspectors saw needles, bandages and other refuse in the sewer system's traps and septic tank. A new incinerator was not in use because those trained to run it no longer work there.

The inspections were more positive for two police stations in Mosul that were reviewed. Both appeared to be able to operate at full capacity, the inspector general said.

However, the review of one station showed that some of the contractor work did not meet requirements, razor wire was secured by sandbags and no one knew how to fix or run the electric generator.

"As a result, the new generator system, which cost $79,000, is not being used and the repaired and upgraded electrical system and components have been degraded," inspectors said.

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