People, Environment

Ahvaz Soil Pollution a Cause for Concern, Says Official

Ahvaz Soil Pollution a Cause for Concern, Says OfficialAhvaz Soil Pollution a Cause for Concern, Says Official

Khuzestan Province’s top environment official has said Ahvaz and Mahshahr’s struggle with soil pollution is “worrying” and must be addressed as soon as possible.

Speaking to ISNA, Ahmadreza Lahijan, director of the provincial office of the Department of Environment, said a recent study has shed light on the severity of the pollution crisis plaguing the two cities in the oil-rich province.

The study was carried out by researchers at Ahvaz Jondi Shapour University of Medical Sciences, Ferdosi University of Mashhad and Isfahan University of Technology. Soil sample have been sent to universities in Canada and Australia for further analyses.

“There are high concentrations of heavy metals and organic compounds in the soil,” Lahijan said, adding that industrial activity is the main source of the pollution.

The study’s results in full will be made available soon, he said.

  Studying Gotvand Dam

Moving on to the controversial subject of Gotvand Dam, whose construction has been labeled by many as a disaster, the official said the DOE is funding a comprehensive study to determine how long it would take for the salt beds in the dam’s reservoir to completely dissolve.

“We’re still not able to determine for certain how long it will take…we’re waiting to hear from the foreign experts to get a definitive answer,” Lahijan was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Construction on the dam on Karoun River began in 2011 amid widespread protest from environmentalists and scientists who warned that the dam’s harm would outweigh its help.

The dam was built on salt beds, which has exponentially increased the salinity of the water in the reservoir and, according to DOE officials, contributed to the death of 400,000 palm trees in 2014 by increasing the salinity of the Karoun.

The damage has severe implications on Iran’s agriculture and economy because 40% of Iran’s exported dates are produced in this southern province.

Following claims earlier this year by the Iran Water and Power Resources Company that the dam’s construction had DOE approval, the department issued a swift response accusing the company of failure to disclose in their proposal, the presence of salt beds in the region that would be submerged in the reservoir.

In addition to wiping out palm trees and increasing salinity of the Karoun, evidence shows that the dam has also taken a toll on the provincial wetlands and contributed generously to the desertification crisis, that in turn is gradually displacing large numbers of rural residents and pushing them into major cities like Abadan and Ahvaz, which cannot cope with the migration.