July 1, 2008

Kuwait Environment ‘in Serious Danger’

By Nawara Fattahova, Kuwait Times

Jul. 1--KUWAIT -- Kuwait's environment is in danger and the government is not taking the necessary measures to protect it. As many violations are occurring in the environmental field, the Green Line Environmental Society (GLES) is watching the Kuwaiti environment and is trying to help preserve and protect it. GLES, a voluntary NGO, recently detected serious and dangerous environmental violations. The society has reported the matter to the concerned authorities responsible for the environment -- the Environment Public Authority (EPA) -- but they have not received any response until now.

GLES decided to bring the matter up with His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah. "Kuwait should be rescued from environmental crimes committed against its residents which are caused by the negligence of the EPA. I call upon the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed to use his authority to solve these problems. We demand an independent committee be formed so we can investigate the reasons behind the corruption spreading in the EPA. The investigation should last for three months so the committee could issue a detailed report about the poor performance of the EPA and its participation on environmental crimes and violations. The report should also give solutions and recommendations," said GLES Chairman Khalid Al-Hajri.

Al-Hajri pointed out that the EPA was very negligent of its duties. "EPA is hiding relevant information from the public in order to distance the Kuwaiti society from Kuwait's environmental reality. GLES demanded for various types of environmental information from the EPA, but they never replied as they know that this information would be added to the environmental report which will be submitted to the Parliament," he added.

The EPA is committing further crimes and violations. "The EPA approved of the actions of a company to inject dangerous kinds of poisonous chemical waste in the earth. If GLES didn't interfere and stop this company, Kuwait's environment would have been destroyed," Al-Hajri pointed out.

Salmiya, one of the most vital commercial and residential areas in Kuwait, was a subject of corruption as well. "Cement factories, which spread poisonous and carcinogen cement dust, were allowed to be built in Salmiya's residential area. The EPA didn't move a muscle to sanction these factories and this led GLES to hold a campaign demanding the closure of these factories. Fortunately our campaign was successful and the factories were closed," Al-Hajri further said.

He further noted that children living in Kuwait's southern areas are suffering from different diseases. "The southern areas, especially Um Al-Haimman has become a storage area of diseases caused by the spread of poisonous gases. The Air Pollution Detecting Department at the EPA didn't even react on the calls for aid from the residents there," Al-Hajri explained.

GLES managed to get a document issued by the US Army, which proves that gas pollution percentages have been extremely high in Shuaiba Industrial area for four years already. "The EPA knows about this, but they still haven't done anything to fix this problem. We haven't seen any positive changes," highlighted Al-Hajri.

Other areas are suffering from pollution as well. "Many residential areas that are located next to industrial areas are suffering from pollution. For instance, Shuwaikh Industrial Area is full of environmental violations and many chemical materials are stored there. This is like a bomb that could explode at any minute," he added.

According to Al-Hajri, the EPA is useless in many other fields and areas. "The EPA has also failed to effectively help in rescuing Kuwait's marine environment, which is the State's main resource of water and fish. The marine pollution has even spread to numerous Kuwaiti islands," he noted.

Dumpsites are a critical and dangerous problem in Kuwait as well. "Kuwait is now full of dumpsites due to the negligence of the EPA, given that it has not implemented a plan for recycling waste. Dangerous gases are being produced since there are so many dumpsites. Furthermore, these gasses could explode at any moment given that these gasses contain methane gas. The best example of this problem is the Qurain dumpsite, which hasn't been solved since the 1979," Al-Hajri concluded.


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