Pollutants affecting Caspian Sea environment
ASTARA,Gilan province, Iran, October 18, 1999, (IRNA) -- Despite being landlocked, the Caspian Sea has been in a "semi-critical" environmental situation in recent years due to the flow of various industrial, agricultural and urban wastes.
However, the dangerous pollution which is mainly caused due to oil operations, including exploration, drilling and transfer in addition to heavy metals and substances such as lead and zinc which constitute part of the industrial waste, are threatening marine life in this largest lake of the world.
Dr Mohammad Piri, head of the research center for fishery studies in Gilan province, said although Iran's share in the pollution of the Caspian Sea is meager, however, efforts are underway to further prevent flow of any pollutant to the sea.
He said only five percent of the Caspian Sea water is supplied by Iranian rivers while the remaining 95 percent is flown to the sea through rivers in the littoral states, including Volga.
The official said that Iran attaches great importance to the preservation of diversified ecology of the Caspian Sea, adding that various research projects have been carried out in this connection so far.
Further elaborating on the issue, director general of the marine environment of the environment protection organization Mohammad saeed husseini said a regional project, the Caspian environment program (CEP), is being formulated to fight environmental hazards in the region.
He said the program is being prepared by the five littoral states of Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran.
Meanwhile, U.N. Agencies such as U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) and U.N. Development Program (UNDP) as well as World Bank and European Union will cooperate with the plan, Husseini said.
So far, he added, $15 million has been offered by the said agencies as contribution to the plan which will be completed in three years time.
He pointed to refining, control and fight against marine pollution, management of coastal regions, preservation of marine ecology and study of radioactive pollutants as the main topics of the program.
Husseini further added that each country concerned will undertake research works on two or three items of the program, adding that Iran with the cooperation of the atomic energy organization will conduct study on radioactive pollutants.
Meanwhile, head of the environment club of Turkmenistan pointed to the activities of international companies in the Caspian Sea and said while those companies claim they cause no environmental damage to the marine environment of the sea, the reality is quite different.
Another Turkmen environmental official stressed that as long as littoral states are after their own individual interests in the Caspian, the sea should not be expected to remain safe and its environment intact.
He said in his view preservation of the Caspian environment and formulation of a legal regime for the sea are among urgent needs in this connection.
Elements causing Caspian pollution are many and, therefore, any plan to fight the mishap demands collective cooperation of the littoral states as the sea is a collective regional heritage.
The Caspian Sea with a span of 378 square kilometers is the largest lake in the world neighboring Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.