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Marshlands Near Ahwaz Threatened by Oil Industry

Ahwaz's ancient marshlands are likely to be wiped out by oil well drilling, according to the administrator of Department of Environment in Howayzah, Moussa Modheji.

The unique ecosystem of the Hor al-Azim marsh, west of Ahwaz City, is threatened by severe pollution from waste water from drilling companies operating there, according to a report by the Hamshahri newspaper, quoting Mr Modheji.

The destruction of the Hor al-Azim marsh is one of the main causes of the dust storms that plague Ahwaz and have earned it notoriety as the world's most polluted city, according to WHO.

The deputy director of the Iranian environment agency Mr Motesadi noted recently that the government was engaged in palm planting and marsh restoration to deal with the storms. However, government projects have failed to reverse the destruction of the marshes and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned that the marshlands of southwest of Iran are facing a situation similar to the environmental catastrophes that have affected the Aral Sea and the Amazon. 

Following the fall of Saddam's regime, Iraq began rehabilitating its marshlands on the opposite side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. In October 2007, the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands announced that the Hawizeh marsh was designated a Wetland of International Significance, and Iraq’s first Ramsar site. However, Iran began diverting water from the Karkheh River and has constructed of a militarized border dyke choking off water flows into Iraq. This has affected progress in marsh rehabilitation and contributed to the environmental crisis in Ahwaz.

Contributions from Saleh Hamid and Sheymah Silavi