Already struggling residents of the impoverished village of Abezhdan in Ahwaz are facing further hardship, with many of the livestock on whom they depend for survival dying as a result of drinking water lethally contaminated by the dumping of toxic chemicals from the Iranian regime’s oil and gas fields in the area, which are also decimating the local ecosystem and wildlife.
The massive pollution of the local environment from the regime’s oil and gas fields and associated refineries, exacerbated by regular breakdowns in the dilapidated pipeline network leading to massive contamination of local waterways, are not new problems for long-suffering locals in the village of only 200 people in the Abo-Alfares area and other local communities or in the nearby city of Ramez, with farmers repeatedly urging action to protect their families, livestock and livelihoods from the devastating effects.
These pleas have fallen on deaf ears, with the regime instead escalating its exploration, drilling and construction of related facilities, increasing the already choking pollution in the area where more than 100 oil wells already pump out choking pollution around the clock.
The deaths of a large number of cattle as a result of drinking the contaminated water have been another painful blow to the 40 families living in Abezhdan village, who rely on their livestock to make a living.
Despite a local regime official agreeing that the cattle very clearly died as a result of drinking the contaminated water, however, the regime refuses to acknowledge that this was the cause or to compensate the villagers.
Speaking about the case, Hamid Hushyarizadeh, the local district councillor for the Abo-Alfares area, said, “Unfortunately, we don’t have a veterinarian in Abo-Alfares – we only have a vet’s office which is always closed due to lack of staff. But we have sent the report to the governor.”
The official acknowledged that the cattle are dying as a direct result of drinking water polluted with oil, adding that this problem has plagued the region for a long time and saying, “We have recorded cases of this here before.”
Much of the oil run-off and effluent from the oil wells that blight the local landscape is dumped in ponds around the village, leaving toxic pools that also poison the local groundwater and leave the soil barren and infertile.
Although the local veterinarian authority’s office for northern Ahwaz (known as Khuzestan in Farsi) has previously urged national environmental bodies to get involved and take action to force the regime to end these ecologically damaging activities that are devastating to the local ecosystem and to local livestock and wildlife, as well as to the human population, there has been no move to do so, with the regime refusing to even acknowledge the problem.
A resident of Abezhdan voiced anger and despair at the regime’s actions, saying, “The oil companies seized large swathes of our lands then set up these oil fields around our villages. During the excavation and drilling, they use lethal, toxic chemicals and dump the discharge into the seasonal ponds which we rely on for water for our livestock like cows, sheep and goats, and where wild birds also feed – they’re dying too.” Ahwazi environmentalists in the area confirm that the wildlife in the area, including hoopoe, ducks and eagles, have been decimated by the pollution.
The local resident, speaking on condition of anonymity due to fearing retribution by regime officials if identified, said that the regime’s oil companies and officials simply refuse to acknowledge the problem, seeing the possibility of having to pay compensation for their willful negligence as endangering their profits.
“The regime officials don’t report these oil spills and the discharge of chemical waste on our lands so that they won’t have to pay us any compensation for our lost livestock or the destruction of our crops and our lands that are becoming too poisoned for farming due to the contamination of the water and soil,” he said.