I work at a company that has to use a certain coating on equipment designed and used in offshore at a gas refinery in south of Iran for purpose of preventing corrosion on them. This coating is considered quite toxic due to its chemical chain which has isocyanate. Once I was assessing the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) I came across part 6 of it, which enumerates about Spill and leak procedure. What is stated on that MSDS paper is as follows:
Precautions: Avoid contact with skin and eyes. Do not breathe vapor. Put out fire and remove sources of ignition. No Smoking. Take precautionary measures against static discharge. Evacuate and ventilate the spill area. Take care that the area is well ventilated. Close the leak only when there is no danger to – do so. In a closed area well a full-face positive pressure breath-mask. Wear protective clothing. Avoid release to the environment. Spillages should be contained by, and covered with large quantities of sawdust, sand or another absorbent. Dike larger spills to prevent contamination of ground and surface water.
In the company I work there is a health and safety officer. In her memo to his direct boss and a carbon copy to the owner of the company she explains about the danger of the coating and of disposing it into the environment. Her direct boss, however, in return gets angry and summons her to his office. He reprimanded her for writing such a warning letter and tells her to never ever write such a letter(s) again. He even suggested for its disposal, put up the container in the middle of the quad and he will shoot it like a soccer ball (I think he was joking, he never did it)!! However, she does not get discouraged. She asked me to write an e-mail to the European based company which supplied the chemical asking for help and methods of disposing.
So I wrote to the supplier and asked them to provide me a means of disposing the leftovers and spillages of stated coating. I received the following reply. In the end of her fax the following sentences was shinning: “Containers must be disposed as any paint according [to] local regulations. In Europe paint must be disposed to an official chemical waste facility.”
After receiving the reply she looked into local environmental agencies for recycling and reusable materials for disposing the chemical containers. She talked to Associate Research of that agency Mr. M. who provided her with a phone number of where she could get information from. The place is called Research Center of Environment; office of Soil and Water. After many follow-ups via phone calls a high rank employee was to be found.
Mr. A. from Environment Research Center, office of Soil and Water, explained that they used to have a program to dispose toxic materials. However, the entire program stopped about 2 years ago and it is no longer in process. The only solution was provided as follow: returning the toxic containers to the supplied company with help of Center providing the vendor's company pays the fee for transportation and insurance!!
What makes me wonder in all along this bureaucracy there was no single person who would take responsibility for our environment. On the other hand, no one cared. It is heart aching to see that in year 2004 there is no real recycling and disposing program in Iran! I wish to ask if there is any responsible for such important issues. This week is considered week of preserving environment. So, how came we do not pay attention to the most basic fact of our life methods to dispose our waste in a country of 70 millions!