Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, May 05, 2003

Underground oil refinery.

Blueprints scattered on the floor of a dusty office in the complex indicate construction started in December 1980, three months after the start of the Iraq-Iran war. But whether the refinery was encased in rock for security or other reasons wasn't immediately clear to soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division.

"Maybe it was Saddam's personal gas plant. I don't know what it is," said Maj. Edward Chesney, 40, operations officer for the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, who oversaw infantry searching room after room of the complex by flashlight.

Invisible from the main highway, the refinery's entrance is reached by an access road running through a Special Republican Guard camp. The entrance is pocked by shrapnel from American bombs from the 1991 Gulf War - one of which sits unexploded and rusting outside - but inside, the thick, reinforced concrete ceilings of the complex show no damage.

The underground oil refinery looked like it had been abandoned for some time. A thick layer of dust covered everything.

Inside one room, a 10-foot-high vault door made of 12-inch-thick steel opened into a hallway. The hall led to a control room where '70s-era equipment had dials and switches labeled in English. Next door was a laboratory, where white tile counters were still laden with glass beakers - most empty but one containing a dark liquid.

After returning to base camp, Capt. Tad Corkery, a spotter with the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, shrugged and said only Saddam could know what it was all for.

"Guess we have to find him and ask him," said the 28-year-old from Andover, Mass.

< email | 5/05/2003 10:49:00 AM | link

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