DoE Opposes Refinery Plan

DoE Opposes Refinery PlanDoE Opposes Refinery Plan

The Department of Environment (DoE) officials have publicly voiced dismay over the construction of Zarghan Refinery in the vicinity of Shiraz, Fars Province, according to Iranian media.

Speaking to Mehr News Agency, the head of the environmental assessment office at DoE, Hamid Jalalvandi, expressed concern about the project and said, "Construction is set to begin on the refinery without an environmental study.

"The project does not comply with environmental regulations. A blatant disregard for the law is the fact that the refinery is slated to be built only 30 km away from the Shiraz metropolitan area." Despite the short distance from a populous city, last year the government issued a directive making the refinery "an exception to the rule", allowing the construction to go ahead as planned, Jalalvandi said.

To make matters worse, the refinery, which covers 100 hectares, would encroach on the Bamou National Park protected area. "The project managers claimed they owned the land before it became a part of the park's protected region and it seems that the court has ruled in their favor," he said.

The stated intention of the project managers is to create jobs and boost the economy. Nevertheless, Ahmadali Keykha, the DoE's natural environment deputy, sees that as an excuse to build the refinery.  "People care more about quality of life and clean environment, not the construction of dams and refineries," he asserted, according to Arya News Agency. "The DoE will not allow the construction to go ahead as long as it ignores environmental regulations."

Javanshir Kadkhodapour, a deputy to the governor general of Shiraz, criticized the DoE stance on the matter, and said, "Shutting down the project will only serve to exacerbate unemployment," Tasnim News Agency reported.  Keykha, however, disagrees. "The province is filled with natural attraction in need of investment," he said, and added that with proper planning the environment can be used to create jobs.

Environmental assessment on the project is expected to take up to two months, and officials have warned that if construction begins, the DoE will take legal action.