On the highway, which connects Wilayat of Ibra with Al Qabil (North Al Sharqiyah) one can see piles of waste including plastic, old tyres, construction debris and farm leftover spread over two square kilometres. Dumping of waste violates the environmental laws and legislations of the Sultanate. The laws on conservation of the environment and prevention of pollution issued by Royal Decree Number (114/2001) bans “Omani environment for the dumping of waste, which may adversely affect the nature, and the historical and cultural heritage of the Sultanate. No waste should be left in the open space unless in accordance with the regulations and conditions issued by a decision from the minister
However, even with laws in place, illegal dumping still occurs. An environment expert says used tyres pose several risks. “Part of the risk lies with their chemical makeup. Toxins released from tire decomposition, incineration or accidental fires can pollute the water, air and soil. Second is fire risk.” “Some people burn tires, which can cause unpleasant odours and pollute the atmosphere because they contain toxic chemicals,” a citizen said.
Huge quantities of plastic are also thrown in this site. “As the plastic is everywhere and has become a main part of our daily lives it is hard to imagine how to manage without it. No one knows how long plastic materials take to decompose. Perhaps hundreds or even thousands of years,” the expert emphasised.
North Al Sharqiyah is characterised by its natural resources that attract thousands of tourists throughout the year. “Indiscriminate waste disposal at these sites cause soil contamination, affect groundwater resources, cause extinction of wildlife and indirectly affect human health and the surrounding environment,” the expert said.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY YAHYA AL SaLMANI