International Journal of Law

International Journal of Law
Vol. 6, Issue 3 (2020)

Oil refineries in Kurdistan: A study of their environmental impact on, humans and their livelihood

Karwan Dhahir Saber

This study aims to analyze the environmental impact of Oil refineries in Kurdistan. Petroleum refining is the largest industry of region and a vital part of its economy. Unfortunately, environmental hazards associated with refineries have caused increased concern for humans and their livelihood for communities in close proximity to them. This update provides a general overview of the processes involved and some of the environmental hazards associated with petroleum refining, including enormous amount of ammonia, sulphides, phenol and hydrocarbons etc. Currently, refineries pollute at unacceptable and unhealthy levels in the Kurdistan region. These include metals like lead which makes it hard for children to learn. They also contain dust particles called PM10, which can get deep into lungs and harms our ability to breathe’. Furthermore, studies have found that petroleum effluents be not only be lethal but also, have sub-lethal effects on growth and reproduction in areas close to the outfall. Lastly, the paper examines the effectiveness of environmental policies, institutions and laws in Kurdistan in the protection of the environment from oil refineries pollution. The study specifically highlights failures of the regulatory agencies to control environmental degradation due to legislative and administrative gaps in the current legal and regulatory framework of awarding petroleum refiners’ responsibilities. It was also observed that the legislative, regulatory and administrative structure is inadequate to support environmental protection from oil refineries due to several reasons, including lack of a court to examine special cases of oil and gas impacts on the environment, low levels of awareness within local populations to respond to environmental violations, and lack of consistent policies of redress. The paper proposes that the recently released law on petroleum refineries in Kurdistan be strictly enforced and that UK legislation be approved as an advanced country for study.
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