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Iran – a country rich in oil and gas, but facing environmental crisis

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The theocratic Islamic regime in Iran continuously advocates that achievement of nuclear know-how and possession of atomic ability are a matter of “national pride,” ignoring the basic principles for maintaining a universally accepted standard of living for its citizens. A healthy environment, including clean air and unpolluted water, is not in the regime’s agenda since they do not contribute to the “national pride” from their perspective.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS RELATED TO WASTEWATER IN IRAN

Increasing population and increasing resource consumption in Iran has added to the volume of waste to be disposed of. Thoughtless and inappropriate waste disposal, in turn, commonly leads to increasing pollution. Much of the water on and in the Iranian plateau is not strictly fresh. Even drinking water does not meet the standards of “pure” water since it commonly contains dissolved chemicals of various kinds, especially in industrialized and populated areas with substantial air pollution. Naturally, when precipitation reaches the ground, it reacts with rocks, soil, and organic debris, dissolving still more chemicals, aside from any pollution generated by human activities. Therefore, water quality in big Iranian cities must be considered when evaluating water supplies.

For more than a decade, the presence of radioactive elements present a radiation hazard to the water consumer, and many synthetic chemicals which are toxic even at minimal concentrations have leaked into the water through improper waste disposal. This has rightfully evoked great concern in various parts of Iran, but unfortunately the authorities in the Islamic regime have been apathetic since the welfare and health of the Iranian people is of the least priority in their eyes.

TEHRAN AS A CASE STUDY:

Tehran, the capital of Iran, could be considered one of the largest cities in the world in terms of surface area and population (more than 13 million inhabitants). However, it is a city with no basic sewage system and no modern treatment installations. Presently only 10% of the city sewage is regularly collected and treated in local treatment stations, and the remaining 90% infiltrates the ground water by way of drilled wells or directly enters the subsurface water cycle by run-offs, causing extensive pollution of the ground water. With intense population growth in Tehran and a concomitant increase in demand for household and drinking water, the usage of untreated and polluted ground water is rising. Without any doubt, this unsanitary usage of ground water is a menace to public health.

Apparently, a project for the collection and treatment of the sewage for the greater Tehran has been studied and evaluated for a long time by a number of domestic and foreign consulting groups. However, due to a lack of budget and other unspecified reasons this project has not been undertaken. The World Bank refused to award a loan for the project considering the huge oil revenue that the country received regularly in the years before sanctions as well as the impracticality of the project and its unlimited dimensions.

As already pointed out, at the present time the domestic and industrial sewage in Tehran and its suburbs is collected by way of wells. Continued sewage disposal into the wells, along with recharging of the ground water through rainwater, have caused the gradual rising of the water table in the greater Tehran area to the point that the sewage is in direct contact with the ground water, particularly in the southern portion of Tehran. In this part of the city domestic sewage continuously enters into the ground water and mixes with subsurface water. In addition, the high level of the water table particularly reduces the layer of regolith that could act as a filter to purify the sewage. The thin regolith thus allows polluted water, and in some instances raw waste, to enter the ground water directly. This contaminated ground water will proceed by way of shallow and semi-deep wells to the water distribution system.

In most places in Tehran, the ground water is also contaminated by chemical agents such as “nitrate” as well as harmful microbes, among other pollutants. It should be pointed out that about 20% of domestic drinking water for the inhabitants of Tehran is derived from these unsafe sources. Evidently, the Islamic regime has not taken care to purify the groundwater before its distribution to the public.

The pollution of the open line running water and creeks within the greater Tehran is also alarming. Mixing of sewage with the uncovered running water and runoffs effectively sullies the whole environment of the city, and common people, especially young children, could come into contact with these polluted waters. Certainly, this would be a great health hazard to the people of Tehran. Unfortunately, this scenario is already taking place, probably on a more serious scale, in other cities in Iran.

To mitigate matters, the Islamic regime should control population growth and not advocate or praise the increase of births. It should make better use of the current water supply and take all reasonable measures to protect existing water resources. A wealthy country like Iran, with vast natural resources including huge reserves of oil and gas, should be able to install as many treatment centers as necessary for the handling of sewage and the disposal of wastes.

CONCLUSION:

The problem in present-day Iran is not the shortage of funds for research and development, or the shortage of expertise and technocrats, or even the scarcity of water. It is the lack of authorities with responsibilities, poor management, and most of all corruption of the whole system governing the country. The dictatorial clergy in power prefers to expend billions of dollars to support the international terrorist organizations and to have atomic weapons in hand rather than to have content, healthy, and well-nourished citizens.

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