Mining in Akhtala Area Affects Heavily on Human Health and Environment

Mining in Akhtala Area Affects Heavily on Human Health and Environment


Akhtala area residents from Lori Region are beating an alarm signal that the volume of the production of agricultural products has fallen down drastically over the recent years.

In Akhtala area 'Akhtala Ore Processing Combine' CJSC is developing Shamlugh copper mine, while the industrial wastes generated as a result of ore processing are dumped into Nahatak tailing dump located between Mets Ayrum and Tchotckan villages. Besides this tailing dump, 'Akhtala Ore Processing Combine' CJSC also has several reclaimed tailing dumps, and these mining infrastructures are the main reason for environmental pollution.

Nahatak tailing dump 

Nazik tailing dump 

Akhtala river

'Community Unity and Support Center' NGO President, 'There have always been leaks into the Debed River from Akhtala Tailing Dump. Even with naked eyes, you can see how water flow out of the lower layers of the soil and flow to the lower part...When people understand that their food and water is not clean, they start worrying about their own health,' Oleg Durgaryan said.

We have a large full tailing dump in the community and a semi-destroyed medical point, which is the only healthcare establishment. It's absurd to have such a tailing dump and not to have a standard healthcare service, which should have been funded by the company'' Oleg Durgaryan said and outlined that the development of the tailing dump doesn't comply with any standard and violated human right to live in a healthy environment.

The research findings carried out still in 2015 showed that because of Nahatak Tailing Dump operation the concentration of lead in 60-70% of peach samples in Mets Ayrum and Tchotchak communities exceeded the permissible sanitary and healthcare standards by 2-4 times.

The AUA research says, 'Overall Geometric Mean (GM) of BLL was 6.0 μg/dl: 6.8 for Akhtala, 6.4 for Alaverdi and 5.1 for Yerevan. The study demonstrated that children in three communities adjacent to metal mining and smelting industries were exposed to lead.' (Risk factors for children’s blood lead levels in metal mining and smelting communities in Armenia: a cross-sectional study, Authors - Ruzanna Grigoryan, Varduhi Petrosyan, Dzovinar Melkom Melkomian).

'The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies lead compounds as probable human carcinogens.  Some studies show the relationship between lead exposure and cancers of the lung, stomach, brain, kidney, bladder, colon and rectum...' says the research entitled 'Lead exposure and measure of IQ level among children in Alaverdi, Akhtala and Yerevan' carried out by Siran Grboyan.

Very soon 'Akhtala Ore Processing Combine' CJSC will stop the operation of Nahatak Tailing Dump, which should be reclaimed.

Oleg Durgaryan doesn't believe that Nahatak Tailing Dump will be reclaimed, 'I don't believe it will be so easy to reclaim the tailing dump. It is large and high-quality reclaiming will need high expenses. I think we should demand with the citizens to solve the problem of the tailing dump and not just to cover it with a thick layer of soil,' he said.

21:44 March 30, 2018


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