Iran says poor fuel not to blame for choking Tehran

Wed Dec 8, 2010 3:09pm GMT

* Tehran suffering acute air pollution

* New traffic curbs aim to ease crisis

* Anti-sanctions emergency fuel not to blame-officials

By Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Acute air pollution in Tehran cannot be blamed on gasoline produced in an emergency plan to foil sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme, officials said on Wednesday, instead blaming the weather and domestic heaters.

A weather system has trapped air in the Iranian capital for four weeks, posing a major health risk for people with respiratory problems and pushing up hospital admissions by more than 20 percent, according to the Health Ministry.

In an attempt to clear the air, several public holidays were declared and cars can now only circulate on alternate days, squeezing even more people into Tehran's buses and metro.

The severe smog occurred a few months after Iran announced it had become self-sufficient in gasoline by implementing an emergency plan to refine gasoline in petrochemcial plants, foiling international sanctions. Previously it needed to import up to 40 percent of its automotive fuel needs.   Continued...

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