back to article Chemical-weapons hysteria causes cholera

A senior Iraqi government official has said that water treatment plants are critically short of chlorine gas which they need to purify public water supplies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that supplies of the gas are being held up due to fears it might be used as a chemical weapon, and adds that chlorine is vitally …


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  1. randomtask


    ...are actively infiltrating pool cleaning companies in the US with the hope that they will plant small explosive charges in all public and private pools with the hope that people will die when touched with the dangerous liquid combination of chlorinated water!

    They had planned on blowing up, simultaneously, all the taps with flouride in the water supplies but this has fallen on the wayside in recent weeks!

  2. Andy Bright

    On the plus side it seems they've found they're weapon of mass destruction

    Untreated water.. tell W to take his bucket and spade down to Iraq - we might even let him play in his cowboy suit or if he's really lucky, his airforce uniform, complete with "Mission Impossible" banner... erm I mean "Mission Accomplished" banner.. an aircraft carrier and whatever else the spoiled rich kid wants.

  3. Silas Humphreys

    Proof, if proof were needed...

    that worrying excessively about terrorist threats is bad for your health!

    Coat, getting.

  4. Chris


    It's quite clear to see who are the real terrorists here. I wish I could say I was surprised. I've always been more scared of the U.S. government than any so-called "terrorist". Especially when the U.S. government considers animals-rights groups to be "terrorists".

    How do you quickly bring a country to "third-world" status (or make sure a country never improves beyond "third-world" status)? Easy. Remove all items which might possibly be used to create a weapon. Remove all hydrogen, helium, oxygen, nitrogen (dangerous when cooled to a liquid), mercury, sodium, uranium, plutonium, arsenic, cyanide, gasline, oil (I knew we could find a valid reason for removing it!), fertilizer... The list is virtually never-ending.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Comment

    Makes me think that maybe they were using the chlorine cylinders in explosives to make it more heavily regulated, thus harming many when the water is impure.

    /tinfoil hat

    But nah, that's just crazy talk.

  6. A J Stiles

    Sure there's a generalisation in this somewhere

    Typical kneejerk reaction .....

    What happened when they banned DDT in Africa? People died of malaria.

    What happened when they closed down factories in the UK? People became unemployed and turned to petty crime to survive.

    What happened when they took the lead out of petrol (for the benefit of catalytic converters)? The alternative anti-knock ingredients turned out to be worse for human health than lead, and car manufacturers can't even make more efficient engines that wouldn't even need a catalytic converter in the first place because catalytic converters -- and hence, engines intrinsically inefficient enough to require them -- are now a legal requirement.

    What happened when they banned chlorine in Iraq? People died of cholera.

    If there is a generalisation that you can draw from all this, it's probably "There's no situation that can't be made worse if you insist on mucking about with it."

  7. J

    What's in a name...

    "Dr al-Gasseer"

    That's one interestingly fitting name given the Cl gas situation, innit? Or is it just me?

  8. JeffyPooh

    They forgot... control the supply of Dihydrogen Oxide, another material that has killed millions of people over the years. I'm sure the brain trust that controls such things will issue a memo shortly.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The terrorists find yet another way to fuck with their own people. I realise that this is mainly due to paranoia on behalf of the security (?!) forces, but FFS, if you steal the chlorine that is used to purify the water to use as a chemical weapon, it's not beyond the wit-o-man to think that the supply may dry up and the water might go untreated.

    Terrorists 1, Security forces -1, man on the street fucked, again.

    (Yes, this is a knee jerk reaction to the story, so I reserve the right to be talking out my arse, or slightly change my opinion.)

  10. Thorin

    Nice subject

    "Chemical-weapons hysteria causes cholera"

    WTF? Misleading much?

    Chemical weapons do NOT cause cholera! Hysteria does NOT cause cholera!

    Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio Cholerae.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    perhaps the headline should have been "Chemical-Weapons Hysteria prevents chlorine from being imported into Iraq, which means water supplies go untreated and allowing Cholera to spread"

    not quite so snappy though

  12. Chris

    re; Nice subject

    Hey Thorin, please visit your nearest psych facility for a reality check. The headline "Chemical-weapons hysteria causes cholera" is accurate. It's a little thing we like to call "cause and effect". Perhaps you've heard of it?

    Cause: chlorine allegedly used as a weapon. Effect: U.S. government goes overboard by creating embargo on chlorine.

    Cause: chlorine embargo. Effect: no clean water.

    Cause: no clean water. Effect: cholera in water is allowed to reproduce and spread.

    What would you like to argue next? That bullets don't really kill people, that instead it's the damage to the various tissues that actually kills people?

  13. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Dihydrogen Oxide

    Dang! That explains why we're now only allowed to take 100ml of the stuff onto planes... I'd forgotten just how much of a terrorist threat that evil stuff was!

    Now... back to making some liquid bombs. Don't worry, I'll flush before getting my coat!

  14. Mark

    100,000 or 65,535?

    Did they do this calculation with Excel 2007? Are we in fact seeing only 65,535 tons of the stuff and the rest is missing?

  15. EnricoSuarve

    How to fuck up a country - Step 6

    "One might as well restrict supplies of welding oxygen, or petrol, or scrap iron for that matter."

    For the love of god would you stop giving these idiots ideas

    And JeffyPooh - no, just no, stop thinking it, no - you know they'd go and do it and some bush aid will go issue the order without looking it up, seriously, no ;0)

  16. randomtask

    The solution is easy...

    Just put the water through a flux capacitor with 1.21 gigawatts and transport it back to a time when it didn't have cholera in it!

  17. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    How to fuck up a country - Step 7

    Just ensure that education levels drop to such a dismal point that vast numbers of people cannot correctly decide when to use "their" compared to "they're", nor realize what a contraction is and what it means, or be able to understand that the word "hysteria" following "chemical weapons" might just be the actual subject, and not the chemicals weapons themselves.

    Why, in such a country, I'll bet that they would spend a lot more time discussing the potential consequences of a Presidential blowjob then they would spend wondering if it's a good idea to invade a country that hasn't attacked them.

    They might even accept a President who openly lies to his people without impeaching him.

    I know, it sounds hard to accept, but trust me, it's possible.

  18. Steve

    re; Nice subject

    Thorin is correct.

    The title should read "Chemical-weapons hysteria causes cholera to spread"

    Chris, re-read your logic. Your final statement says that the final effect (after all those causes) is "cholera in water is allowed to reproduce and spread".

    i.e. you have confirmed that Thorin is correct (see my amended title), at the same time as saying that he should get a reality check.

  19. Thorin

    Re(2): Nice Subject

    @ Chris

    "The headline "Chemical-weapons hysteria causes cholera" is accurate."

    No it isn't.

    "It's a little thing we like to call "cause and effect". Perhaps you've heard of it?"

    Indeed, thanks for checking though.

    "Cause: chlorine allegedly used as a weapon.

    Effect: U.S. government goes overboard by creating embargo on chlorine."

    WRONG. Read the article again. "...gas are being held up due to fears it might be used as a chemical weapon...". There is NO use, there is NO alleged use. There is FEAR of use.

    "Cause: chlorine embargo.

    Effect: no clean water.

    Cause: no clean water.

    Effect: cholera in water is allowed to reproduce and spread."

    So we step through 3 series of cause and effect to supposedly arrive at the subject. It's still wrong, neither chemical-weapons nor hysteria have "caused" cholera. Perhaps they "lead" to cholera but they have NOT "caused" it. Even if we ignore the use of "caused" there still isn't any chemical-weapons, there is only FEAR of chemical-weapons. The title should actually be "Fear of chemical-weapons leads to embargo resulting in cholera" or something like that.

    "What would you like to argue next?" Anything you like, shall we start a debate blog?

    "That bullets don't really kill people"

    Bullets and guns don't kill people, they're inanimate objects. Perhaps you've heard of them? People kill people.

    "...that instead it's the damage to the various tissues that actually kills people?"

    This is also a good point, many people live with bullets and shrapnel in their bodies for years and years. Many people are shot and live. It IS as you have pointed out the damage caused by the bullet which kills the person not the bullet itself. I suppose in some bizzare extreme case a bullet (or many bullets) could result in lead poisoning though.

    @ Steve thanks for the support, though I still don't think "Chemical-weapons hysteria causes cholera to spread" is perfect, maybe "Chemical-weapons hysteria results in spread of cholera". IMHO the chemical-weapons (which don't actually exist) aren't causal of the chorlera spread (not directly enough), but I can agree that cholera spread is a result of the topic. Sorry if I'm not being clear enough, I don't want to write a huge essay on this. Basically I agree that subjects can follow cause and effect, if that cause and effect are in direct relation and not many steps apart. Anyway I'll digress and hopefully you get what I was aiming at.

    PS > Wow now that I previewed it, I did kinda write an essay, sorry about that everyone!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Thorin re: chemical weapons

    "Unfortunately, there have been several bombing attacks in Iraq where chlorine gas cylinders were included in explosive devices."

    Straight from the article. Also, there was even a hyperlink (Have you heard of those?) to the story where El Reg covered that. Read, then make an ass of yourself, please.

  21. EnricoSuarve

    Nice priorites

    A serious article on how the direct effect of a massive overreaction by the coalition forces to an unusable weapon are a Cholera outbreak, and all you can do is argue semantics?

    Fucks sake Thorin - its almost like prats like you are paid to come to forums like this and waste peoples time

    Personally I can't help thinking that a Cholera outbreak might have been the aim of this anyway, after all there's much less ability to resist an occupier who's busy stealing your oil if you're busy dying

    "Sign the damned document already - you get the Chlorine, we get the oil, if yer real nice we might even call the Blackwater boys off"

    Or am I just rabidly paranoid?

  22. Thorin

    Re: @ Thorin re: chemical weapons

    @ AnonymousCoward

    Thanks for pointing out the link to the article posted more then half a year ago! Definately directly related and still relevant.

    "Published Thursday 22nd February 2007 15:21 GMT"

    Also if you bothered read the linked article that you so helpfully pointed out, you would have noted:

    " It requires a relatively high concentration to be deadly so colossal quantities must be delivered to have useful combat effect."


    "The most significant physical effect of including chlorine gas cylinders with an explosive payload will typically be extra fragmentation damage, rather than associated poisonings."

    In other words the chlorine isn't being employed as a chemical weapon, it's being employed to increase the yield of the explosive devices, which could be accomplished by ay pressurized gas canister/tank. If you link further to the original BBC article (which was linked via the link you felt the need to point out) you'd note "Three weeks ago, a truck carrying explosives and a chlorine tank blew up in Anbar province." A chlorine in singular.


    "Fucks sake Thorin - its almost like prats like you are paid to come to forums like this and waste peoples time"

    Sorry EnricoSuarve, I know some of you love the media and it's FUD, misdirection, and fear mongering. I find it amusing that you supposedly wasted time reading the comments but then took the time to post yourself. Your comments was definately much more time worthy then everyone elses.

  23. EnricoSuarve

    Re: Re: @ Thorin re: chemical weapons


    Thats OK apology accepted ;0)

  24. Naiirita


    while i agree that chlorine is not considered militarily combat effective, but neither are suicide bombers. the problem is you are not dealing with a military. a simple 55 gallon barrel of chlorine can empty a very large building it its just spilled inside of it, no explosives needed. and while it likly wont kill anyone itself, it can make u VERY sick, it will also force you outside, possiably into an ambush? while i agree banning is a bit extreme and there are other substances than can have the same affect, but chlorine is cheaper and easier, i mean hydrogen and helium and oxygen are just as dangerous, but are more expensive, harder to transport, and not usualy stored in large quanities like chlorine. honestly, have you ever seen a tank truck hauling a few thousand gallons of hydrogen?

  25. Thorin

    Another voice of reason

    It seems I'm not the ONLY voice of reason.

    "What makes it all the more tragic is that chlorine -- for all the hype and worry -- is actually a very ineffective booster for bombs ( Of the roughly dozen chlorine-laced bombings in Iraq, it appears the chlorine has killed exactly nobody.("

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