Pollution threatens Gulf coral reefs
The World Health Organization classified Saudi Arabia as the fifth in terms of pollution, and official statistics indicate that 80 percent of coral reefs in the Arabian Gulf are affected by pollution. Coral reefs are expected to become extinct within 30 years if the situation remains the same.
The annual report of the General Presidency of Metrology and Environment Protection has identified five water polluters: leakage from oil tankers; release of stabilization water from tankers with its chemicals with fungus and creatures alien to the local environment; sewage water from industrial cities; lack of treatment of sewage; and the increased sedimentation rates that change the marine environment.
According to the report, air pollution results from industrial complexes that are spread in urban areas alongside the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coasts, in addition to dumping industrial and commercial waste along the coast which exposes population to danger.
The government devised a system to deter environment waste, and punishments are defined according to the executive list of the GPMEP.
Violators face five years in jail or a fine of SR500,000. These penalties target those who bring toxic or radiation waste into Saudi Arabia, non-commitment to producing, transporting storing or recycling these substances, or disposing of pollutants and toxic waste from ships to regional waters.
The list confirmed that violators will be obliged to remove the waste and their facilities might be closed down for a maximum period of 90 days, or closed if the violation is repeated.
The list defined violations and transgressions in nine cases, violating measures or specifications and environmental guidelines; non-commitment to the rules and procedures defined by relative authorities; stopping treatment; tampering with measurement devices and interfering in their operations; lack of commitment to emergency plans devised to face pollution; absence of individuals or equipment needed to operate and implement emergency plans or refraining from implementing regular maintenance for this equipment.
The list considered lack of commitment to the timeframe defined by relevant bodies to remove and stop negative impact on the environment by the violating facility as a violation punishable by law.
In a related matter, the deputy chairman of the Saudi Environment Society, Dr Majeda Abu Ras, revealed the increased cost of environmental pollution in Gulf Cooperation Council countries by 10 percent.
She said studies by global organizations pointed out that the cost of treating pollution in the Gulf countries is around 10 percent of their gross domestic product and reaches more than SR40 billion in Saudi Arabia alone.
She confirmed that lack of sewerage networks in Saudi cities increases the cost of treating this type of pollution, with costs reaching up to SR200 billion to face pollution resulting from lack of sewerage networks. She said studies about establishing a sewerage network stated that the costs of a comprehensive network reaches SR75 billion.
She added that GCC countries need to decrease economic losses resulting from pollution costs and its treatment according to joint plans to preserve natural resources and maintain them for future generations.