ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Sunday issued an order to form a security committee to execute its decision to shut down unlicensed oil refineries operating throughout the region’s three provinces.
The KRG announced in a statement “the formation of three joint special forces” to close down the plants, which “despite being warned by the interior ministry did not oblige with the removal decision.”
In mid-January, Erbil handed a three-month deadline to owners of all such processing plants – the operations of which the KRG deems illegal – to cease activity for failing to implement industry regulations that ensure, chiefly, environmental protection standards as well as product quality.
Although the output of the additional poorly-regulated refineries has helped to provide much-needed oil, environmentalists have charged that they are run irresponsibly and have called for the government to assign a higher priority to health, safety, and a clean environment.
Due to the substandard practices many operators use, they say, many such businesses are polluting surrounding reservoirs and poisoning animals that graze on nearby pastures.
More worryingly, locals in some villages have previously told Kurdistan 24 the processing plants have affected the health of members of their communities as waste products, such as toxic gases and chemicals, pollute their sources of drinking water and air.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany