State Bodies Avoiding Responsibility for Mining Problems

State Bodies Avoiding Responsibility for Mining Problems


The competent state authorities shall not be liable for the wrecking state of the facilities of the mining enterprises as well as for the damage caused and the consequences caused by the wrecking state of those facilities. The Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Armenia (MES) receives inquiries describing the real negative consequences associated with tailings dumps, tailings accidents, and the state of wrecking homes due to explosions carried out in mines.

However, the answers of Ministry of Emergency Situations that the Ministry does not want to deal with the facilities of the mining companies. In September 2018, Secretary General of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Ohanyan responded to EcoLur's inquiry about the results of the Teghut tailing dump examination that the Ministry of Emergency Situations is carrying out technical security expert assessment based on the request of the operator and the contract concluded as a result.

Whereas, according to Article 16 of RA Law on State Regulation of Technical Safety, the technical safety system bodies - the Authorized Body, the National Technical Safety Center, accredited entities and operators of hazardous production facilities (HPFs), are responsible for the proper performance of the obligations.

According to Article 11 of the law, HPFs are subject to expert assessment at least once a year. For its part, the Technical Safety Examination Procedure stipulates that the testing of operating HPFs should be carried out after the hazardous manufacturing facilities have been registered in the register, whereas with the operating (re-running) HPFs prior to commencement of operation (re-operation), and for design documents: at the end of the design phase. In our reality, however, HPFs are mainly assessed in a documentation procedure.

Now the Ministry of Emergency Situations cites other legal acts for not dealing with mining sites. An inquiry sent to RA Ministry of Emergency Situations by journalist Tehmine Yenokyan says:

"1.How many tailings have you studied in the last 10 years and what have you recorded? Please, provide documentation.

2. What technical problems have you fixed in Teghut tailing dump?

3. The houses of the inhabitants in Atchanan village have cracks, they accuse Kapan OPC, have you studied what caused the cracks?

Have you conducted a study after the accident at the tailing pipe of the Artsvanik tailing dump?

According to Article 11, Part 6 of RA Law on State Regulation of Provision of Technical Safety, the facility is subject to technical safety expert assessment at least once a year, and by paragraph 7, if a manufacturing accident or man-made accident has occurred in the facility  - irrespective of the prescribed period. Please, provide information in which tailing dumps technical safety expert assessments have been carried out after the accidents in the tailing dumps."

In response to Tehmine Yenokyan's inquiry, Secretary General of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Armenia Vahagn Ohanyan stated in a letter: "The technical state of the buildings and structures in the Republic of Armenia is examined in accordance with the decree of RA Minister of Urban Development No. 282-N dated on 08.12.2009, "On Methodological Instructions for the Examination of Technical Condition of Residential, Public and Industrial Buildings and Structures" with no guidance on the examination of dams, hydraulic structures, and other engineering structures and infrastructures (bridges, tunnels, etc.).

“Territorial Service of Seismic Protection” of Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Armenia has a license to examine the technical condition of residential, public and industrial buildings and structures, and tailings dams are considered to be hydraulic structures.”

Questions to the ministry remained open: which state body bears or shares responsibility with the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

RA Environmental and Soil Inspection also overlooks the existing problems. EcoLur's alarm signal in March 2019 that wastewater from the Nahatak tailing dump flows into the Debed River, the inspection responded that it was permitted to direct the industrial effluent to the Debed River after mechanical treatment. Yet today, with the naked eye, one can see the same concentrate as in the Nahatak Tailing Dump.

November 12, 2019 at 17:37