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10 Am. U. J. Int'l L. & Pol'y 481 (1994-1995)
Environmental Terrorism: Lessons from the Oil Fires of Kuwait

handle is hein.journals/amuilr10 and id is 491 raw text is: ENVIRONMENTAL TERRORISM: LESSONS FROM
Jesica E. Seacor
Eyewitnesses to the inferno on the Kuwaiti oil fields at the end of the
Persian Gulf War' described the scene as hell on earth.' Over seven
hundred oil wells burned uncontrollably for eight months until a multi-
national coalition of firefighters extinguished the last oil well fire? The
* J.D. 1994, Washington College of Law, The American University; A.B. 1989,
College of Arts and Sciences, Georgetown University. A former editor-in-chief of The
American University Journal of International Lznv and Policy, the author would like
to thank the members of the Journal for their assistance and patience throughout the
extended life of this Comment. The author is currently an associate with Kilpatrick &
Cody in Washington, D.C.
1. See William M. Arkin, The Gulf 'Hypenar--An Interim Tally, N.Y. TIMtES,
June 22, 1991, at 23 (noting the impact of the Gulf War). The Persian Gulf War
began on January 16, 1991, and officially ended on March 1, 1991, six weeks later.
let The United States and a United Nations (U.N.) coalition of forces, collectively the
Allied forces, fought against Iraq after it invaded Kuwait, a neighbor at its southern
border. Id.
2. See infra part II (detailing events of the Persian Gulf War involving envi-
ronmental destruction); see, e.g., HELL ON EARTH: THE KLvArrl OIL FIREs (Arts &
Entertainment Network 1991) [hereinafter HELL ON EARTH] (depicting firefighting
techniques employed by United States and Canadian teams to extinguish the blazes);
Sebastio Salgado, The Kuwaiti Inferno: A Photo Essay. N.Y. Timis, June 9, 1991, §
6 (Magazine), at 21 (portraying photographs of the fies and the firefighters who
battled them).
3. HELL ON EARTH, supra note 2. Although the estimated number of oil wells
damaged by the fires ranged from 500 to 900, the official count by firefighters was
732. Id; infra note 63 (providing the widest range of estimated oil fires); see lVorld
News Tonight with Peter Jennings (ABC television broadcast, Nov. 7. 1991) (inter-
viewing firefighters putting out the last oil well fire). Firefighters extinguished the
fires on November 6, 1991, many months earlier than firefighting experts had predict-
ed. Id. Red Adair, a legendary oil well firefighter whose company was one of the
U.S. teams hired by the Kuwaiti government to stamp out the blazes, testified before
the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee [hereinafter Senate Coin-


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