Probe Into Possible Oil Industry Dust Storm Effect

Probe Into Possible Oil Industry Dust Storm Effect   Probe Into Possible Oil Industry Dust Storm Effect

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has called for an investigation into oil explorations in West Karoun region in Khuzestan Province, where it is said drilling and other oil industry operations have had a negative impact on the environment, ISNA reported.

The activities are partly to blame for the dust storm that has crippled southwest of the country in recent weeks.

After the oil ministry's announcement, the Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC) stated that the company has started an independent investigation to find out the possible impact of oil industry activities in the region.

Meanwhile, head of HSE division at PEDEC announced that the company has submitted a report on the current environmental situation of Hoor al-Azim Wetland, which is said to have been dried up for oil industry operations, thus contributing to the formation of dust storms.

Karoun River, with its massive effluent of fresh water, has a number of large oilfields of the country lying on its banks near the border with Iraq.

Zanganeh said his industry would compensate if the investigation proves that oil explorations have been the cause of the massive damage to the environment.

Negotiations have been held with Iraqi officials regarding the dust storm issue, which some experts believe originates from Iraq and Syrian territories. Dams recently built in western Iraq are also cited as another factor restricting water flow toward Hoor al-Azim Wetland.

Hoor al-Azim is a protected area and any operation in the region requires permission from the relevant authorities.

Refilling the wetlands and observing their water rights are among the short-term measures that can help tackle dust storm problem in Khuzestan Province. In the meantime, tracking and plowing dry farmlands and pastures that contribute little to agriculture should stop as they reduce the wetlands' water quota, leading to desertification and a subsequent dust storm.

Heavy dust storms have swept across Khuzestan Province over the past two weeks, forcing local authorities to shut down schools, universities, and governmental offices.

The local Department of Environment (DoE) announced that the density of dust particles in the air reached 9.985 micrograms per cubic meter, registering a record pollution 66 times greater than the healthy limit.

In recent years, dust storms in the western part of Iran have grown in frequency and density. They have on occasions caused serious respiratory problems for the locals.