10/08/2007, 00.00
IRAN
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The death of dozens of dolphins reveals Persian Gulf pollution

Area around Hormozgan in Iran indicated for high levels of pollution due to petrol waste, industrial discharges and shipping. Residents refuse to eat fish caught locally. But local authorities are more concerned about bad press than tackling the issue at stake.

Teheran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At the end of September 79 dolphins came to the small port of Jask, in the province of Hormozgan in Iran, to die. The incident has called attention to the high levels of pollution in the waters of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea in front of the Iranian coast, and Tehran’s complete lack of action in tackling the problem.

Iranian environmentalist Ebrahim Kahrom says that the Persian Gulf is 47 times more polluted than what he described as the "standard level." He suggested that "severe oil pollution" and the presence of oil slicks in Gulf waters and called the confluence of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea as "the most polluted area of the southern seas”. Other experts suggest that the dolphins died from gradual poisoning due to "chemical pollution" or oil from the July 15th Bandar Abbas port oil spill which is estimated to have contaminated an 800-square-kilometer stretch of water.

A deputy head of the Environmental Protection Organization, Mohammad Baqer Nabavi, told  Radio Free Europe said that the dolphins may have been killed by the oil spill but went so far as to suggest that sonar emitted by U.S. submarines in the Persian Gulf, or tuna fishing nets might have also been factors.

But experts observe that authorities show little interest in combating marine pollution, or in ascertaining the consequences of the Bandar Abbas disaster. Far News agency has observed that the local authorities have only attempted to make sure the incident “passes silently” and that investigations into responsibility have yet to bring results.  He observes that the governor of Mormozgan wants to avoid “bad press” at all costs, so as not to draw government censure.

Enviornmentalist Narques Rohani commented to Radio Free Europe that factories and petrochemical plants have been spilling unprocessed waste and sewage into the Persian Gulf for years and that residents don't eat locally caught fish, believing it to be contaminated. She also noted the destruction of local populations of corals and fishes, and warned that Iranians could expect more environmental disasters "if officials remain silent”.

 

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