Nazeli Vardanyan, Ecologist-Lawyer, www.aarhus.am
The environmental expertise of Amulsar gold mining project developed by “Geoteam” CJSC has been carried out with a number of violations of the Armenian legislation.
Amulsar mine is located in the drainage basin of Lake Sevan, as well as in the immediate impact zone and its development will result in pollution groundwater and surface water, which will flow into Kechout and Spandaryan reservoirs, then into Lake Sevan, which will damage the ecosystem of Lake Sevan. Meanwhile Article 10 of RA Law “On Lake Sevan” says, “Any activity in the central, immediate and non-immediate impact zones having harmful impact on Lake Sevan ecosystem is banned.” Thus, it’s evident that Amulsar mining contradicts to RA Law “On Lake Sevan” and causes essential damage to Lake Sevan and its drainage basin. Nevertheless, Nature Protection Ministry neglected the provisions of RA Law “On Lake Sevan” and issued a positive environmental expertise opinion. It’s also impermissible that Lak Sevan Expert Committee once issued a negative opinion and then issued a negative opinion on 24.09.2014.
2. Amulsar mine is located in a distance of 7 km from Jermuk resort town famous for its unique mineral water. Article 21 of RA Land Code says that sanitary conservation zones are set in the resort areas, where conducting explosions and any business activities polluting environment are banned.
Article 99 of RA Water Code says that the water resources in Armenia are subject to conservation and special requirements are set for their conservation. Nevertheless, the documents submitted for the expertise show that the balance of area ecosystem can be disturbed in Amulsar area, which may cause the loss of mineral water in Jermuk, as well as the drainage basin of mineral water will be polluted. Besides, Article 108 of Water Code bans the location waste burial sites, landfill sites, cemeteries and other objects having indirect harmful impact on the quality of water resources. Meanwhile water needed for technological processes will be taken from the Arpa River and the polluted water will penetrate into groundwater basin and then to Kechout and Spandaryan reservoirs.
Article 104 of the same code says that it’s banned to use the resource for wastewater, which contains natural medical resources, which is located in the specially protected drainage basin area, in the proximity of resorts, as well as they are spots for fish spawning, animal or plant habitat. In this case, all these features are available.
The positive environmental expertise also contradicts to the resolution of the Armenian Government no. 1064-N dated on 18.09.2008 “On Declaring Jermuk Town a Tourism Center”, which says, “4. Jermuk Town, Armenia, rich in resort resources, has its own place and traditions.” Because of Amulsar mining the unique nature of Jermuk may become non usable because of air, water, soil pollution and high radiation.
Jermuk, being a resort town and has mineral groundwater resources, is a reserve, meanwhile being located only in a distance of 7 km from the mine it was not recognized as a project affected community and public hearings were not held there, thus violating the provisions of RA Law “On Environmental Impact Assessment and Expertise”.
Mining activities will result in polluting rural land areas, water and atmospheric air. Article 31 of RA Law “On Preservation of Atmospheric Air” bans the location of mine wastes and dumps in residential areas, storage of other wastes, which are sources of polluting the atmospheric air with dust and harmful substances.
The expertise ignored the provisions of RA Code on Subsoil. Particularly, Article 26 of RA Code on Subsoil bans soil management, if the areas include cemeteries, monuments of nature, history and culture, red-listed species habitat, as well as animal immigration paths.
Taking into consideration that Article 23 of RA Land Code considers these land areas as cultural and historical ones, thus any activity contradicting to their primary and operational significance is banned.
Provision of land areas occupied with cultural and historical monuments for mining purposes violates also 11 Article of the Armenian Constitution, which says, “Monuments of history and culture and other cultural assets are under the care and protection of the state.”
5. RA Law on “Environmental Impact Assessment and Expertise” has been violated. Particularly, Jermuk town hasn’t been recognized a project affected community and public hearings were not held in this town as prescribed by the law. That is, the opinion of the largest community residents hasn’t been taken into consideration. In this particular case, Lake Sevan littoral communities shall be recognized as project affected communities together with all the communities irrigated with Lake Sevan, which hasn’t been carried out.
The body performing the expertise hasn’t taken into consideration the negative opinion of project affected community residents, Gndevaz and Sarvan, as well as the negative opinion of Jermuk residents. Thus, 33.2 Article of the Armenian Constitution has been violated, which says, “Everyone shall have the right to live in an environment favorable to his/her health and well-being and shall be obliged to protect and improve it in person or jointly with others.” Article 10 of the Armenian Constitution has also been violated, which says “The state shall ensure the protection and reproduction of the environment and the reasonable utilization of natural resources.” While according to 31 Article of the Armenian Constitution, “Everyone shall have the right to freely own, use, dispose of and bequeath the property belonging to him/her. The right to property shall not be exercised to cause damage to the environment or infringe on the rights and lawful interests of other persons, the society and the state.”
Based on the aforementioned it can be concluded that the expertise of Amulsar mining project has been carried out not in depth, many provisions and requirements of the Armenian legislation have been violated, which resulted in issuing an illegitimate expertise opinion.
16:02 April 10, 2015