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District 12, one of the oldest and most populous areas is located in the heart of the capital.
District 12, one of the oldest and most populous areas is located in the heart of the capital.

Residents Complain About Plasco Debris Dumping

Come warm weather insects and rodents will start crawling all over the dumping site and if it is windy, it can blow harmful chemicals into homes in the vicinity

Residents Complain About Plasco Debris Dumping

The clean-up operations at the site of the collapsed 17-story Plasco Building in downtown Tehran ended on Friday, January 27, with the debris transferred to the 7-hectare ‘Bagh Chali’ land located in Mokhtari St., Takhti neighborhood in Tehran Municipality District 12.
Some 20,000 tons of wreckage comprising steel and concrete and burning materials were removed from the site of the incident by 200 heavy vehicles over the past week. 
The temporary disposal site is an urban land sold to Bank Shahr. The bank was established in 2009 jointly by the municipalities of Tehran and other major cities. 
Residents of the neighborhood have raised concerns over the mounting pile of rubble since some of the debris that is still burning has been dumped close to residential areas (only a few meters away). It is feared that the gases released from the burning materials could be toxic and result in adverse health and environmental impacts in the short term. Many residents also complained about the unpleasant odor at the disposal site, and have demanded that the rubble be removed as soon as possible, IRNA reported.
District 12, one of the oldest and most populous areas is located in the heart of the capital. About 500,000 people live in the area. 
“Come warm weather insects and rodents will start crawling all over the dumping site and if it is windy, it can blow harmful chemicals into homes. Why have such reckless measures been taken,” one resident asked.
Management of debris is a major concern after any disaster and removal of debris in particular presents challenges unique to the disaster. 

  Toxic Effects of Asbestos
The number of workers searching the rubble for whatever could be salvaged before moving it to the disposal site was very few. Most of them were Tehran Municipality workers not equipped with special face-masks to prevent developing respiratory hazards associated with toxic gases in the fires that were constantly erupting from the debris. As was seen in pictures published by local media outlets, some workers were not even wearing gloves.
While the TM has taken a “short-cut” to reduce time and cost of transportation of the mountains of waste by dumping it at the disposal site in District 12, apparently no attention has been paid to the possibility of negative health outcomes that could well arise from the proximity of the rubble to the residential units. 
Asbestos which was used as building material in the construction of Plasco Building half a century ago, is known to cause mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis (lung tissue scarring caused by asbestos fibers). Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer that primarily develops in the lining of the lungs or the abdomen and has no known cure.
At present, more than 50 countries have banned its use because of the toxic effects. 
  Campaign on Social Media 
The famous Plasco tower crumbled on January 19 after fire engulfed its upper floors and resulted in the death of at least 21 people, including 16 fire fighters. The incident caused deep anguish and pain among Iranians as well as people across the world. 
The building was one of the capital’s oldest high-rises and housed 600 units including clothing workshops. 
Following the incident, many Iranians joined a campaign on social media questioning the competency of Tehran’s urban management.
A video recently released showed the mayor warning about the poor safety standards and weak structure of the Plasco Building, built in 1962. He said “repeated warnings were issued over the past three years about the lack of the tower’s safety.” However, people who worked in the building said the warnings should have been sent to Mostazafan Foundation, the owner of the building, since Plasco managers had no authority to renovate the building. 
Earlier, Abolfazl Qanaati, a member of Tehran City Council (TCC) which elects the mayor and supervises the TM’s budget, pointed to the outdated and worn-out equipment at the Tehran firefighting stations.
This fiscal year which ends in March, the Tehran Municipality (TM) had been obliged to pay 2% of the building safety charges (collected from non-residential buildings and calculated based on their land area, location, risk coefficient, etc) -- $35 million (1,400 billion rials) -- to the firefighting department to update their equipment. However, so far, the TM has allocated only $5.4 million, the councilor complained.

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