Chemical pollution leaked by state-owned manufacturers of petroleum products in the Hor Azim wetlands in western Ahwaz region have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of fish in recent days, with many believing that this is deliberate regime policy.
Local residents told the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz’ (ASMLA) information office that countless dead fish are floating on the surface of the wetlands, with foul odours spreading across the region. Anger is rising among local people at the regime’s deliberate poisoning of the wetlands once renowned for their bounteous marine life, and its equally deliberate failure to take any action to stop the environmental catastrophe despite repeated pleas.
Local residents placed responsibility for the mass deaths of fish and other marine life on the shoulders of the Iranian regime-run oil companies and petrochemical plants, whose heedless oil exploration, drilling, and petrochemical production have poured massive quantities of environmentally devastating toxic industrial chemicals into the once-fertile wetlands. This has not only devastated an area of outstanding natural beauty but left local people who relied on fishing for their income and diet with no means of sustenance. Adding further insult to injury, the Iranian regime denies the people of Ahwaz any chance of employment in the oil companies and petrochemical facilities, leaving them destitute.
The local residents also told the ASMLA that this is not a new phenomenon, with Iranian authorities repeatedly poisoning the local wetlands with chemical run-offs since they first launched oil exploration activities in the region in 2001. The people’s repeated calls for an official investigation into these activities have been ignored.
Activists and environmentalists are warning that continuing pollution of the Hor Azim (Hawiza) wetlands area has become a lethal threat not only to the wildlife in the region but to the safety and security of the thousands of human residents there, with the water increasingly unfit for human consumption as the regime dams and reroutes the upstream rivers that feed the once-lush area, leading to dangerously high levels of salinity in the water, in addition to severe pollution, forming a double crisis.
The Hor Azim wetlands in western Ahwaz in the Maysan region bordering Iraq cover an area of approximately 307,000 square hectares in total, with 125,000 hectares of this in Ahwaz. The severe salinity and drought resulting from the aforementioned damming and rerouting of rivers upstream have already led to the wetlands shrinking by around a quarter, with fears that they may be completely lost if the current catastrophic pollution and severing of the water supply continues.