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Harmful Oil Bi-Product Used In Iranian Cities, Polluting The Air

An Iranian woman wears a mask to help guard against dangerous levels of air pollution in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019.

The Islamic Republic of Iran's Department of Environment (DoE) chief, Issa Kalantari has admitted that mazut, an environmentally harmful fuel is used for power stations in the country.

Mazut is a heavy, low quality fuel oil with an obnoxious smell that highly pollutes the air. The cheap product is usually used in massive industrial plants and for ships. In the West, mazut is broken down and turned into diesel.

Speaking on Sunday, January 19, Kalantari regretfully said that Iran is caught in a vicious circle of air pollution, without knowing how to find a way out.

"Under (U.S.) sanctions, the Oil cannot export mazut, and Iranian refineries are overflowing with the heavy fuel oil," Kalantari disclosed, adding, "Therefore, we have once again been forced to use the product for our power plants, polluting the air."

The level of sulfur density in mazut produced in Iran is nearly 3.5%, which is seven times more than the international standard for vessels on high seas, and its usage is strictly banned in urban areas, specifically in the cities like Tehran that are struggling with air pollution.

Iranian refineries, on average, have produced more than 60 million liters (approximately 15.8 million U.S. liquid gallons) of mazut per day, of which 35.5 million liters (roughly 9.3 million gallons) have been exported, 4.3 million liters (1.1 million gallons) used for bunkering (vessel fuel), and the rest domestically consumed.

Since Iran's refineries are very old (mostly built during the reign of Iran's last monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi) and deprived of new technologies, 24% of the crude oil turns into mazut, which compared with gasoline and diesel has a very low value.

The main bulk of Iran's mazut is exported to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and refined further for refueling local and foreign vessels.

However, since the re-imposition of Washington's sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2018, exporting Iranian mazut has significantly declined, leaving Tehran with no option other than using the product to feed local industrial complexes.

One of the major consumers of mazut in Iran is its power plants that DoE head, Isa Kalantari, believes are the primary sources of air pollution in the country.

Earlier, the spokesman of Iran's power industry, Mostafa Rajabi, had admitted that, since March 21, 2019, nearly 99 million cubic feet of mazut had been used in electricity plants across Iran.

"Having a clean air has become an impossible dream for Iranians," Kalantari regretfully said on Sunday, noting, "87% of the minibuses, 81% of the motorbikes, 73% of buses, and 61% of the trucks in Iran are dilapidated. We are living in the country of broken-down vehicles, and still expect to have clean air."