The rush for money could lead to the destruction of Moldova's largest inland river.
In the Moldavian SSR, during the years 1950-1960, 17 hydroelectric power plants were built, one of which was built on the Răut river in the village of Brinzenii Noi. The inhabitants of the village were also involved in its construction.
In 1964, after the Cuciurgan thermal power plant was put into operation, these 17 small hydroelectric power plants were abandoned because they were not profitable and presented an ecological danger.
Several economic agents were interested in the fate of the Brânzenii Noi hydropower plant, which motivated the Local Public Authorities to put the hydropower plant up for sale by auction.
The auction was organized in May 2013, it was attended by two competitors and was won by LLC "Expert Lab" which proposed the highest price of 210 thousand lei.
However, the results of the auction did not have a finality in October 2014, the Supreme Court of Justice canceled the auction because the City Hall and the Brânzenii Noi Local Council committed procedural errors in organizing the auction.
However, things did not end here, the State Chancellery recommended to the local Public Authorities to offer the hydropower plants for rent.
Following another tender announcement for the lease of the hydropower plant, the same Economic Agent “Expertlab” SRL rented the building of the former hydropower plant for an annual payment of 37.5 thousand lei for a period of 25 years.
On November 19, 2015, a lease agreement was concluded between Brânzenii Noi City Hall and "Expertlab" SR, it should expire in November 2040.
In the summer of 2016, the capital reconstruction works of the former hydroelectric power plant near the village of Brinzenii Noi began. Although the law provides for the ecological expertise and consultation of the locals, the works started without any permission from the environmental authorities. But for more than half a year, the authorities have neglected this abuse.
In April 2017, the State Ecological Inspectorate determined that these works are being carried out in violation of several laws - on ecological expertise, on environmental protection, on areas and strips for the protection of rivers and water basins, and of the Subsoil Code. Moreover, for the execution of the works, LLC "Expert Lab" entered the nearby unauthorized stone quarry and illegally extracted 660 m3 of raw limestone for construction.
On August 31, 2017, the locals from Căzăneşti, Telenesti district, sounded the alarm, after a portion of the Răut river that passes through the village dried up, and thousands of fish were left without water, being brought ashore, dead.
Vasile Sirbu, mayor of Cazanesti, spoke on the subject. "Obviously, the problem arose because the water at the Brânzenii Noi hydroelectric power plant was closed. I think the water was intentionally shut down, not accidentally. They wanted to collect water in the reservoir at the hydropower plant. I called the police and the State Ecological Inspectorate. We were told that the documents were given to the Prosecutor's Office ... ",
Mihai Uglea, the prosecutor of the section investigating frauds against the environment and public interests within the General Prosecutor's Office (PG), declares that a criminal case has been opened related to the construction of the Brinzenii Noi hydroelectric power plant.
As a result, a refusal order was issued regarding the start of the criminal investigation, as the reconstruction of the hydropower plant is not the basis for the initiation of the criminal investigation.
However, the Water Code states that for the generation of hydropower, permits are needed for the special use of water. And for the issuance of the permit, the applicant must present a series of documents, including calculations on the amount of water to be used, the action plan / investment plan for the protection of water resources, the plan and / or scheme of the land, indicating, where appropriate, of hydrotechnical constructions and many more. No request for coordination of works or issuance of the environmental permit for the special use of water was submitted by LLC "Expert Lab" to the Agency "Apele Moldovei"
Environmental experts point out that a mini-hydroelectric plant built on the Răut River could cause the destruction of the largest internal river in the Republic of Moldova.