“Environmental Disaster in Lori: The Consequences of Akhtala Mountain Enrich Combinat”
29.01.2018
12:00
The media regularly reportes that the old mine dumps of Akhtala Mountain Enrich Combinat, situated between Chochkan and Mets Ayrum communities in Lori region, poses a danger to the environment and the population.

Still at the end of the previous year, media alarmed that the tailings of the Akhtala Mountain Enrich Combinat continue to flow freely through the Debed River, eliminating the flora and fauna of the river. Environmentalists and Gevorg Gorgisian, Member of NA “Yelq” Factor group who witnessed the situation personally consider it to be an environmental disaster but the state authorities do not agree with that assessment.  

During the discussion entitled “Environmental Disaster in Lori: The Consequences of Akhtala Mountain Enrich Combinat” held at Media Center on January 29, Victoria Burnazyan, Editor-in-Chief of www.ecolur.org web site, notes that the situation has not occurred for a few months but environmentalists have voiced the risks for years.

“We have started to study the problem in depth since 2008-2009, when the “Nahatak” mine dump, was not rebuilt yet with all its negative consequences for the environment. Local communities have always warned about the dangers of the tailing dump, their harvest is polluted with heavy metals, and most importantly they have serious health problems.”

The expert also notes that Akhtala Mountain Enrich Combinat CJSC has tried to build a new tailing dump on 40 hectares of land but the local population is against it taking into account the negative consequences of already existing tailing dumps. 

Marzpet Kamalyan, Advisor to Head of the Inspectorate for Nature Protection and Mineral Resources, says that their agency was informed about the situation in December of the last year and at the moment the relevant inspections are being carried out. However, the official considers that it is too early to give assessments noting that the final results of the inspection will be ready in 10 days. He also assures that the government will develop new approaches that will make the tailings safe.

“Today there are 22 tailing dumps in Armenia that are a problem for our republic. By the developed new method, we exclude the building of the new dumps and the ones we have should be made safer. Law on Mineral Resources has been amended. If earlier the mine dumps were not considered as tailings, they are now considered by the law and the government decisions clearly indicate how to deal with tailing dumps.”

Arthur Grigoryan, Head of “Eco Rights” NGO, evaluating the mine dumps in the territory of the Republic, notes that there are problems with all the mines and all tailing dumps.

“Show me a metal mine where tailing dump has no leaks that do not fill the watercourses. For example, the flow coming from the Artsvanik tailing dump of Kajaran mine moves directly into the Norashen River. This is a permanent process, not a unique emergency situation.”

Gevorg Gorgisyan, MP of “Yelq” NA Faction, presents his personal observations about the “Nahatak” mine dump. He assures that there is an ecological disaster as the tailings flow into the rivers and streams, and the officials pretend not to see it.    

“The Inspectorate for Nature Protection and Mineral Resources has recently sampled it and according to preliminary data, everything is normal there. I wonder how objective this body is because we found a dead crayfish on which a thick layer was found.”

The latter is also concerned that Armenia will soon be facing an international scandal if it continues with such pace.

“The place where we visited the tailings flew into the Debed River. We can have an international problem. Once the Georgians found out that we send all these pesticides to their territory, we will have a very serious international problem. Residents say that for about a year, this is the case, why isn't it prevented?”

Marzpet Kamalyan does not agree with the observations presented by the MP, mentioning that his statement does not correspond to reality.

“No tailings flow to the Debed river. We have not seen anything like this during our inspection. Besides, it does not make sense for the company to fill the tailing dump as it has the capacity to fill the tailing dump for a year and a half, why shoud they fill them into the river?”

In response, Gevorg Gorgisyan notes that they have videos confirming what they have said and suggests going together again in the area of the tailing dump and fix the situation on the spot.

To watch the video, follow the link.  

Derenik Malkhasyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to derenikmalkhasian@gmail.com.

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