Between a GOP debate, a Stanley Cup final (and ensuing riots in Vancouver) and a Senator resigning in disgrace, one disturbing story has gone relatively overlooked. The Washington Post's Walter Pincus is reporting that at least 85 American clinics in Iraq are suffering from X-ray radiation leaks... and have been for the past four years.
The leakage, which at some clinics exceeds the permissible standard set by the Iraqi Ministry of Environment, has several causes, including “design deficiency, whereby the designer had neglected to specify shielding in some openings; and some construction deficiencies where the proper lead shielding had not been installed either in accordance with the specifications or at all,” according to a Corps of Engineers report made public last week.
U.S. taxpayers have footed the more than $200 million bill to get these clinics, which serve Iraqi citizens, built and outfitted. And now it looks like U.S. taxpayers are going to be paying at least another million for rush repairs to the leaky X-ray machines by three new contractors. More important than the upfront cost, however, might be the liability in the long run.
This is a project that began with the best of intentions -- to bring medical care to needy Iraqis. In the end, it's potentially left our government exposed to a lasting, costly and unforeseen liability. This raises an important question... Is it worth trying to bring humanitarian aid to the people of other countries if mistakes on our part could come back to haunt us?
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