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3.1 bn cu. mt. of wastewater dumped into lagoons annually

Tehran, Iran, June 5, 2000 (IRNA) -- Some 3.1 billion cubic meters of industrial and chemical wastewater dumped into lagoons annually has created an environmental catastrophe in the country, an official in the Environmental Protection Organization announced here Monday.

"Unfortunately there are not enough facilities to deal with this illegal practice that results in an average of over eight million cubic meters of waste chemicals being dumped into lagoons daily," said Dr Hossein Seraj-Zadeh, official in charge of lagoon protection.

Due to the upstream destruction of plant life in lagoons, the resulting intermittent precipitation dumps 500 million cubic meters of deposits into these lagoons, he further said.

Seraj-Zadeh pointed to the natural lagoon ecosystem as the most important vital source of food for animals and plants and even for people, saying it enjoys one of the highest importance in biological diversity conservation programs.

He said that over Rls 600 million is spent annually in the dredging of lagoons to clear them of deposits.

"A national determination by all three--executive, judiciary and the legislative bodies--will provide the needed facilities to protect the environment and maintain bio-diversity," he noted.

Twenty-nine years ago, i.e., in 1971, 18 countries signed an international treaty to govern poultry habitats in Ramsar, he said. Now known as the "Ramsar Treaty" or "Lagoons Protection Convention," 118 countries at present are signatories and committed to enforce its provision, he concluded.