At the end of July, the specialists of Czech 'Arnika' NGO specializing in chemical safety and University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague carried out water sampling from Shnogh and Debed Rivers and soil sampling from the orchards of Shnogh residents. The aim of this investigation is to find out the pollution of soil and water with heavy metals because of Teghout copper and molybdenum mining and their impact on human health.
This examination is carried out within the frames of 'Involvement of Civil Society in Armenia in Decision-making on Mining' funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. The project implementers are 'Arnika' organization, 'Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment' and 'EcoLur' Information NGOs.
Interviews with Shnogh residents held by EcoLur in the frames of the media tour organized on 18-19 July.
'The Shnogh rivers gets blue, has foam and only on random days the water is relatively clear. Before the operation of the plant, nothing like that happened with the Shnogh River. I have been living on this river bank for 60 years, we used to swim in the river, but now it's impossible: I don't keep any animals,' Shnogh resident Gevorg Papyan said, in whose orchard soil sampling was carried out.
'The Debed River gets polluted with the leaks from the tailing dump, the Shnogh River is polluted and all this flows into our orchards, and trees get dry so we have to cut them down,' Shnogh Aldermen's Council Member Ashot Adamyan noted.
'The experts should give their conclusions what had caused the orchard of the given person to get dry. I can't say whether or not it is conditioned with the mine. We have received many concerns that the fruit in the orchards doesn't grow well, but if we don't have a professional conclusion what kind of compensation we should speak about,' Shnogh Community Head Davit Ghumashyan said.
The residents also want to find out what kind of impact the mining has on their health. 'No preventative measure has been conducted in terms of health, no monitoring or praufilactic inspections of the initial situation has been carried out to see what kind of impact the mining has on health and who shall bear responsibility for this,' Shnogh resident Vardan Vardanyan said.
It's already the fifth month since Teghout mining has been suspended and it is still unclear when the company will resume its operation.
'The longer the solution of this problem is delayed, the more worried the population of the region become. If there were an alternative, I would like to have an alternative. But now we have a fact. I support further mining only for the sake of solving the social problems in the village, definitely adhering to all the environmental standards,' Davit Ghumashyan said.
We took soil samples from Arayik Babayan's orchard as well, which is located directly on the bank of the Debed River. Babayan told us how the river was periodically polluted with stinky masses before the suspension of the plant operation. People say the tails from the tailing dumps of Akhtala and Teghout plants are dumped into the river.
'Three years ago I bought this orchard of 3 ha at US $ 60,000 with a loan, but nowadays all my orchard trees are getting dry, Arayik Babayan said, ' I have complained and 'Teghout' CJSC has taken samples from my soil, checked them and said there is much arsenic, but it doesn't harm. They refrain from causing damage.'
18:51 August 06, 2018