The participants of "Industrial Pollution in Lori Region" conference adopted a resolution on the environmental pollution because of mining in Alaverdi, Akhtala and Shnogh communities and dangers threatening health in Lori Region. The conference was held in the frames of 'Involvement of Civil Society in Armenia in Decision-making in Mining' project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and implemented by Czech 'Arnika' organization, 'Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment' and 'EcoLur' Information NGOs. This resolution has been dispatched to RA Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The resolution says, 'We, the participants of "Industrial Pollution in Lori Region" conference adopted a resolution on the environmental pollution because of mining in Alaverdi, are recording the fact of pollution of the areas in Alaverdi, Akhtala and Shnogh communities and adjacent areas in Lori Region, as well as the pollution of the water of Shnogh, Akhtala and Debed River with mining pollutants, which contains huge risks for the health of the population and the environment.
The research on the pollution in Lori Region was carried out by the laboratories of the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague in the frames of 'Involvement of Civil Society in Armenia in Decision-making in Mining' project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
The research showed that high concentrations of dioxins are available in the samples of household eggs consumed in Alaverdi Town: dioxins are very hazardous for human health and are carcinogenic chemical substances - the result of mining emissions. Under the experts, dioxins are, most probably, available in other foods of animal origin and their daily use must be excluded in the diet of the population, particularly that of pregnant women and children. High concentrations of copper (up to 5200 mg/kg), arsenic (140 mg/kg), zinc (1200 mg/kg) and cadmium (3.7 mg/kg) have been detected in the sand samples taken from children's playgrounds in Alaverdi.
The contamination of the garden areas located near Alaverdi copper smelter is worrying: copper (up to 1900 mg/kg), arsenic (up to 80 mg/kg) and zinc (up to 1800 mg/kg) as compared with remote areas. The slag spread on the roads of Alaverdi, which is a potential source of persistent organic pollutants – dioxins, the following high concentrations have been detected: copper >9000 mg/kg, molybdenum >1600 mg/kg, zinc >900 mg/kg. Vallex Company Group as represented by 'ACP' Company (currently Russian VTB Bank) is in charge of the pollution.
The experts have detected in the sample taken from the bottom residue of the Shnogh River below the tailing dump owned by Teghout CJSC that the concentrations of copper and molybdenum are 6 and 17 times higher, respectively than the concentration in the river section above the tailing dump. The source of pollution is the mining operations in Teghout, as well as leaks out of Teghout tailing dump. Vallex Company Group as represented by 'ACP' Company (currently Russian VTB Bank) is in charge of the pollution.
The samples taken from the riverbed of the Akhtala River are the most polluted ones, where the copper concentration makes up 9500 mg/kg, zinc - 4000 mg/kg, molybdenum – 90 mg/kg and arsenic – 55 mg/kg.
'Akhtala Ore-Dressing Combine' CJSC is responsible for this pollution. Taking into consideration the findings of the research and the tense socio-environmental state, we are proposing the Armenian Government and the relevant departments:
1. To set strict supervision over mining processes demanding from the companies operating in this sector:
- To introduce systems effectively and air-tightly collecting or neutralizing dust and other dangerous materials and substances emitted into the environment.
- To carry out a comprehensive assessment of the baseline situation of the environment in all the polluted areas (surface water and groundwater, soil, waste collectors and tails, flora and fauna representatives etc), as well as an assessment of applied technologies in terms of environmental safety.
- To develop and present a recovery plan of the polluted areas including exact schedules of events, volumes, and sources of required funding and officials in charge.
- To make interested society and local population a participant in the discussion of the plant in a statutory manner.
- To ensure transparency of the clauses of socio-environmental responsibility in the format of negotiations running among Vallex Group companies, VTB Bank, Government and other probable interested applicants in the course of the operation of Alaverdi copper smelting combine and Teghout copper and molybdenum mining.
- To make the former and current operators of the mine and responsible department liable and to give a political assessment to their activities.
- To carry out a management audit of the plants.
- Based on the findings of the research, to carry out comprehensive monitoring and assessment of the regional foods of animal origin through competent bodies, to draw up a plan of preventative measures and to implement the measures laid down in the plan.
- To carry out analysis and assessment of diseases caused among the population by environmental pollution such as cancer, inborn defects, lung and heart diseases, problems with immune and reproduction systems, assessment per dioxins, to draw up a preventative measure plan and to implement the measures laid down in the plan.
- To consider the adoption and application of an alternative economic development a priority for the development of this area in Lori Region.'
The resolution has been dispatched by 'Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment' and 'EcoLur' Information NGOs on behalf of the participants of the conference.
18:55 December 18, 2018