Mar 15, 2007

Ahwazi: Mercury Pollution Scare

Iranian ecologists report areas in Khuzestan are seriously affected by pollution from mercury and other dangerous chemicals found in petrochemical manufacturing.

Below is an article published by British Ahwazi Friendship Society:

The Bandar Imam petrochemical complex is causing environmental devastation, according to two of Iran's leading ecologists.

Research by Dr Abbas Ismail Sari and Dr Bahram Kiaee found that a large area of Khuzestan (Ahwaz) is seriously affected by pollution from mercury and other dangerous chemicals used in petrochemicals manufacturing.

The academics found that birds from the falcon family, at the top of the food chain, contained two milligrammes per kilogramme of body weight - an extraordinarily high level. As a result of mercury poisoning, the birds and their eggs are smaller than usual. Their study of mercury in birds in the province concluded that pollution is widespread in Khuzestan (Ahwaz). [T]he United Nations Environment Programme states that "mercury has caused a variety of documented, significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment throughout the world. Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic, especially to the developing nervous system. The toxicity to humans and other organisms depends on the chemical form, the amount, the pathway of exposure and the vulnerability of the person exposed. Human exposure to mercury can result from a variety of pathways, including, but not limited to, consumption of fish, occupational and household uses, dental amalgams and mercury-containing vaccines."

Speaking to the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, Ali Ghanawati, a fisherman from Hendijan port, southwest of Ahwaz, said: "The problem was started by Bandar Imam chemical factory. Over the past 20 years, it has got worse and worse. Now they are set up more petrochemical factories.

"The colour of the flesh of fresh fish is blue instead of a healthy red or pink.[“]

"Cancer is increasing rapidly and my brother recently died of cancer."

Ahwazi conservationist Reza Vashahi, who lived in Mashahr near the Bandar Imam petrochemical complex for 25 years, said: "Mercury pollution is one of the most dangerous types of pollution [“].

"Ahwazi land has been destroyed by the unwanted and polluting industries, which have grown since the region lost its autonomy in 1925 [“].

"We ask UNEP and other international bodies to investigate mercury pollution in Ahwaz and at the same time put pressure on the Iranian government to stop polluting Ahwazi Arab land[“].

"Ahwazis are not benefitting [benefiting] from oil reserves. Instead, they have to suffer pollution and poisoning by petrochemical industry."