Citizens of Zanjan have succeeded in their protest against the pollution caused by a lead and zinc factory, with the provincial authorities announcing its closure. The announcement concludes that the shutdown order was issued following the residents’ demands to transfer the factory’s work.
On August 10, one of Iran’s largest environmental protests in recent years took shape. The peaceful demonstrations, which ended without any conflicts, were held in front of the governor’s office and the office of the Supreme Leader’s representative. The demonstrators called for the closure of the lead and zinc factory from its current location near the city of Zanjan. They claimed the factory’s proximity to the city was causing severe water, soil and agricultural pollution and causing sharp increases in cancer and miscarriage as well as adverse effects on children’s health. The demonstrators’ banners read: “Lead and Zinc! Equals Cancer!” and “I want to live!”
During the demonstration, Zanjan Governor Mohammad Raoofinejad appeared in the crowd, promising the people that the factory would soon close down. A few days later, the promise was honoured and the demonstrations had met their goal. However, the governor had earlier claimed that the lead and zinc industry was clean and not harmful to the environment.
Environmental research groups at Zanjan University indicate that samples studies from the region’s water and soil reveal Zanjan is also suffering from soil pollution, and the pollution levels near the lead and zinc factory are much higher. A report by Mehr News Agency indicates a rising level of lead in the nails and teeth of Zanjan Province citizens. The report claims that officials must go beyond closing the factory and take active measures to replenish the soil.
Zanjan Province is one of most active regions for lead and zinc companies with 74 of Iran’s 83 factories. Zanajan`s chief exports are lead and zinc, which makes these commodities crucial to the provincial economy. However, the seriousness of environmental concerns led activists and the public to call for the factory’s shutdown and transfer.
[translated from the Persian original]