Iran warns of massive pollution from oil exploration

Iran’s top environmental official has warned that severe pollution is threatening the Persian Gulf and calls for an international patrol force.

“The Persian Gulf is facing severe ecological pollution as a result of oil extraction as well as other economic activities,” Iranian Vice-President and Head of the Department of the Environment, Masoumeh Ebtekar said on 29 January. She warned that if the coastal states of the waters, which include the rich Gulf States, did not take measures to check the current trend of the sea’s pollution, serious damage would be inflicted to its rich aquatic resources.

Ebtekar suggested that a marine guard squad, with the participation of all regional states, be formed to reinforce control of the traffic of oil tankers and ships in the sea and added that regular patrols conducted by Iran to protect the sea’s ecology over the last two years have produced good results.

Iran recently fined the owner of a Russian chemicals tanker $62.5m for damages and clean-up costs resulting from the ship’s sinking in the Gulf in 1993.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has also warned that approximately 1.2 million barrels of oil are spilled into the Persian Gulf per year and that the area has significantly higher levels of petroleum hydrocarbons than other major oil-drilling regions. It also says that the Gulf’s oil-producing countries generate from two to eight times more hazardous waste per capita than the United States.

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