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EghtesadOnline: It will take at least 15 years to clean up the environmental harm caused by the oil slick in Ardel Country in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province where an old pipeline burst, head of the provincial office of the Department of Environment (DoE) said.

“In addition to air pollution, the oil spill will contaminate soil and drinking water, harm the environment, threaten the fish population and wildlife,” Shahram Ahmadi was quoted as saying by ISNA.

A major crude oil pipeline in southwest Iran burst reportedly due to a landslide and set fire to surrounding farms and lands on Sunday noon. 

The 30-inch Maroun-Isfahan Pipeline, with six pumping stations, carries 550,000 bpd of crude from the onshore Maroun fields 430 km through the Zagros Mountains to oil refineries, Ahmadi said, adding that 375,000 bpd go to storage tanks in Isfahan and rest to the Tehran and Tabriz oil refineries. 

“This is the fifth time that the same pipeline has burst in 15 years and polluted the soil and water resources.” 

Ardel is in the western Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province, between the oil-rich region of Khuzestan and the industrial province of Isfahan in the center.

According to the official, a large amount of oil has seeped into the soil which will linger in the environment for years even after a cleanup and continue to affect fish, wildlife, and most probably the residents in the area.

As soon as it rains, oil will find its way into groundwater resources and it is crucial to warn people to be careful about change in the taste or the color of the tap water, he noted.

“Oil pollution affects the physical properties of soil. Pore spaces might be clogged, which could reduce soil aeration and water infiltration and increase bulk density, subsequently affecting plant growth. Oils that are denser than water might reduce and restrict soil permeability.”


Variety of Factors

Ageing infrastructure is lamed for the blast. While depleted infrastructure is a real problem, age alone does not necessarily indicate risk to a pipeline. Factors such as type of material, installation techniques, seam quality, whether corrosion prevention measures were in place and maintenance also have a key role.

According to Iraj Kiani, an official with the local crisis management team, the exact point in the pipeline burst was Gandomkar Pumping Station in the town of Ardel and was such that crude oil flowed on the ground. The extent of damage was not immediately known.

"Isfahan region's Oil Pipelines and Telecommunication Company is involved in the repair operations the timeline for which is not clear.”

Oil infrastructure has deteriorated over the past several years due to the US economic siege and the Maroun-Isfahan pipeline has a record of ruptures.

There was no official word whether the pipeline was sabotaged. However, in the past "oil thieves" have taken thousands of liters of oil from the pipeline. In August, local security forces arrested three people stealing oil after drilling a 3-inch hole in the pipe.

In June, 67 km of the aging pipeline was replaced and some essential equipment in seven oil transfer units was upgraded and repaired. Residents in the nearby village of Gandomkar were evacuated due to the fire and a 15-km running oil stretch and three oil tanker trucks were sent to the scene.

Aid crew helped prevent the fire from entering another town, Sarkhoun, whose suburban farms have been ablaze, Emdad Shahbazi, a local official, was quoted as saying by ISNA. "Repairs will take a few days," Shahbazi said.


oil environment Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari