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Iran Likely to Sue Azerbaijan for Polluting Caspian Sea

Source: Fars News Agency

Deputy Head of Iran's Environmental Protection in Marine Environment Abdol-Reza Karbasi warned on Sunday that Tehran will lodge a complaint with international courts against Baku if British Petroleum (BP), which is in charge of Azerbaijan's oil exploration, continues polluting the Caspian Sea.

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of 371,000 km2 and a volume of 78,200 km3. It is in an endorheic basin (it has no outflows) and is bounded to the north by Russia, to the south by Iran, western Azerbaijan, and eastern Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. (View Larger Map)

"Iran will file a lawsuit at international bodies in case of continued oil pollution in the Caspian Sea by the BP which is in charge of Azerbaijan's oil exploration and exploitation operations," Karbasi said.

He said that an increase in oil pollution in the Caspian Sea will increase the amount of organic materials which use the oxygen and leave less and less oxygen for aquatic animals, leading to their death.

Over the last two decades, the Caspian has become increasingly exposed to the risk of pollution from oil and gas exploration, exploitation and transport, with the transport of oil or oil products accounting for some 10,000 shipping movements annually, a press release issued by the UN Information Center (UNIC) said in 2011.

Earlier, an Iranian ecological expert had warned that the level of industrial and oil pollution in the Caspian Sea has reached a "critical condition".

"In terms of pollution, the Caspian Sea is in critical condition," Reza Pourgholam, head of the Caspian Sea Ecological Research Institute, told FNA.

Caspian Sea States

Exploitation of oil fields and traffic of large oil tankers dumps 122,350 tons of potentially cancerous oil pollutants into the world's largest inland sea annually, Pourgholam said.

The sea is also poisoned by large quantities of heavy metal just as dangerous as the hydrocarbons, he said, adding that "304 tons of cadmium and 34 tons of lead pollute the sea every year."

Pourgholam said that 95 percent of the pollution originates from the sea's littoral states in the North and Northwest - Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, home to a major offshore oil industry.

The Islamic republic is only responsible for five percent of the pollution, by dumping agricultural waste such as fertilizer and pesticides as well as detergents into the sea, Pourgholam said.

According to him, agricultural pollutants dumped into the sea in the Iranian province of Mazandaran, situated in the Southeast of the Caspian Sea, fell from 10,000 tons to 4,000 annually over the past decade after Iran took measures to lower its pollution of the sea.

The treatment of the Caspian Sea's environmental problems is among the issues on which the bordering countries have yet to reach agreement.

Other issues still outstanding include the legal status of the sea and the delimitation of territorial waters after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The issue has been delaying the signing of an international convention on the Caspian Sea in preparation for years, to govern the cooperation of riparian states in all fields.

... Payvand News - 01/28/13 ... --

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