FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - Kirkuk city, Iraq has been considered by residents here to be one of the most beautiful and cleanest cities in Iraq. But, due to budget constraints, waste removal services around the city have been lacking and waste has been accumulating.

Thanks to efforts of the Kirkuk government and assistance from 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, a new project to remove waste in the city and help educate its residents on properly disposing of trash was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony involving Iraqi children, singers, and a cake, August 9.

The ceremony was attended by Kirkuk Governor Abdul Rahman Mustafa and Lt. Col. Terry Cook, commander of 3rd Bn., 82nd FA, and other government officials.

According to Capt. Juan Cantu, a Houston native and civil military operations officer with 3rd Bn., 82nd FA, who worked on the project, the problem was initially brought to light by Kirkuk's solid waste director and residents of the city. During community meetings, they voiced their concerns over the growing piles of trash around the city.

"Due to budget problems in the past several months, nearly 1,000 tons of trash normally removed by city services were not being picked up," said Cantu. "This ceremony marks the beginning of a three-part waste collection effort to assist Kirkuk city to catch up on its trash removal services."

Cantu said the project is actually comprised of three smaller projects and is scheduled to last two months and employ approximately 700 to 800 workers. The $1.3 million project will primarily be funded through the Commander's Emergency Response Program.

The first phase of the project will run 30 days and involve 500 workers to remove garbage that has accumulated in neighborhoods. The phase will rapidly catch the city up so the daily trash removal services which are already in place will not be strained.

After the city is caught up, the next component involves educating residents on proper waste removal.

"We need to change the way Kirkuk's residents feel about trash," Cantu said. "70 workers will go door-to-door and distribute one million trash bags and pamphlets informing people how to properly dispose of trash and on which day their trash will be picked up."

Cantu said the city will also place 1,500 metal trash cans around the city for people to put trash in as well.

The final phase of the project will involve heavy machinery to remove construction waste scattered around the city.

"All throughout the city you can see bricks and other debris from construction projects lying around," Cantu said. "This final phase will remove all of that."

While this project is scheduled to last two months, it does not mean the trash will not be picked up afterwards.

"Trash removal services still exist in the city," Cantu said. "The budget problems have been addressed and the waste removal contracts have been resolved, so this project will catch the city up and daily removal will continue."

Beautification is not the only goal of the project either. Disease and pest infestation is another risk to consider.

"It is important to keep Kirkuk clean for its residents, to make it a nice city," explained Nawza Abdulla Karim, who works for Kirkuk's municipal solid waste management. "But, it is vital for the health of the city's residents because lots of diseases can accompany trash, especially during the summer months."

"Kirkuk has long been known as one of the most beautiful and cleanest cities in Iraq," Cantu said. "The local government wanted to meet the people's needs here and to return that title to the city."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16