Kirkuk, Iraq - It doesn't take a sanitation engineer to see that garbage collection and disposal is a major problem throughout Iraq. However, the sweet smell of success is permeating from the Kirkuk Solid Waste Management Program - at least in a metaphorical sense - thanks in part to the efforts of the Iraqi government and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division in Iraq.

The waste management initiative has a two-fold goal, according to Nawza Abdulla Karim from the Kirkuk municipal solid waste management department.

"It is important to keep Kirkuk clean and it is vital for the health of the city's residents since a lot of diseases can accompany trash," Karim said.

Kirkuk, Karim said, was once regarded as one of the most beautiful and cleanest cities in Iraq.

To solve the city's massive garbage problem, the Coalition Forces Brigade Combat Team initiated a sustained Solid Waste Management Program for Kirkuk in 2005. The BCT then partnered with the Kirkuk Municipality, the Kirkuk Provincial Government, the Provincial Reconstruction Team-Kirkuk, the U.S. Agency for International Development and USACE's Gulf Region Division to find an environmentally safe solution to the city's garbage collection and disposal dilemma.

The central piece to the program is the $8.8 million sanitary landfill that meets both the highest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and European Union Landfill Directive standards. This site represents the first environmentally engineered and constructed landfill in Iraq. The landfill project, funded by the Commander's Emergency Response Program, was completed by the Irbil-based Zana Group in February 2008. The 48-acre site is located 10 miles south of the city and has an expected life-span of 10-12 years according to the engineers.

Two solid waste transfer stations were also included in the plan. The first one opened in December 2007.

Based on the high daily capacity of garbage being collected at the solid waste station in southern Kirkuk, the program has been nothing short of "phenomenal," said Lt. Col. J.B. Chadwick, officer in charge of the Gulf Region District's Kirkuk Resident Office.

Even other entities have pitched in to support the solid waste program.

The Development Group Iraq Trust Fund bought the Kirkuk garbage collections trucks and the Republic of Korea donated the semi-trailers and loader for the transfer stations. To help Kirkuk catch up with trash pick-up after years of neglect, bongo trucks - operated by private individuals and financed by the U.S. Army - also comb the city.

Soon, the collection and processing capacity will double with the opening of the second transfer station north of Kirkuk. GRD engineers have initiated the lessons learned from the first transfer station to make the second site bigger, better and even more efficient, according to Chadwick. The goal of both sites is to provide collection, processing and dumping of more than 600 tons of Kirkuk's garbage every day into the landfill. To help defer the operating costs of the transfer stations and landfill, scales have been installed to allow Kirkuk to charge other municipalities fees to process their solid waste.

At full capacity, the solid waste sites and landfill will employ more than 700 local workers, adding stable employment and a much-needed boost to the city's local economy. The Kirkuk-based Dalo Company is the general contractor for the transfer station projects.

Col. Dan Anninos, commander of the Gulf Region District, recently toured the transfer station and said the project is a major success story in the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

"This plant is a step in the right direction to provide the citizens of Kirkuk with an effective means to treat solid waste in a sustainable matter that is good for the environment, while all along improving the underlying quality of life of the thousands of residents that this waste management system will service," Anninos said.

The Gulf Region Division has completed thousands of reconstruction projects in partnership with the U.S. government and the government of Iraq. Since 2004, GRD has completed 5,257 projects throughout Iraq valued at more than $8.9 billion, and has 361 projects ongoing.

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