People, Environment

Debacle Over Tehran Refinery Soil Pollution Reemerges

Debacle Over Tehran Refinery Soil Pollution ReemergesDebacle Over Tehran Refinery Soil Pollution Reemerges

A former senior official at the Department of Environment has exposed an environmental disaster unfolding in southern Tehran which has rendered the soil in the region infertile.

Soroush Modabberi, former head of the Soil and Water Office at the DOE, revealed that 15 years ago, traces of oil were found in the privately-owned lands near Tehran Refinery (located on the old Tehran-Qom Road).

“Some people even found oil slick in their water wells,” he added, according to Persian environmental news website Zistboom.

Modabberi said it was not long before the blame game started, even though it was clear who the culprit was: the refinery.

Months of discussions and meetings failed to produce solutions, “so they decided to buy the lands instead, essentially sweeping the problem under the rug.”

He said every government in charge in the past 12 years has tried but failed to solve the problem.

“So the lands are still contaminated, they still pose health risks,” he noted.

However, Touraj Fat’hi, an official at the DOE’s Inspection Office, dismissed Modabberi’s claim saying that studies show the soil in the area is no longer polluted.

“Oil-polluted soil generally recovers after a while, since the oil naturally degrades,” he said.

“So suggesting that the soil is polluted after such a long time is just untrue.”

He admitted that the soil and groundwater reserves in the refinery’s vicinity were contaminated with oil, but was quick to add that the government and Oil Ministry “spent a considerable amount of time and money” over a decade ago to address the problem.

“Their efforts paid off and the area is free of oil contamination,” Fat’hi said.

Concern over soil contamination stems primarily from health risks, direct contact with the contaminated soil, vapor from the contaminants, and secondary contamination of underground water tables.