In the presence of Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Yerevan, Petr Mikyska, and Arnika, together with local NGOs, discussed international tools to administer justice to polluters, continuing their mission for chemical safety in Armenia after sampling the mining areas of Alaverdi, Shnogh, and Akhtala in cooperation with the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, order to detect the impact of industry on human health. "Our task is to find mechanisms for an effective dialogue with the government, so as to find solutions to the problems we have raised," President of Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment, Yelena Manvelyan, said in her welcoming speech.
The international cooperation is a result of the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Yerevan Petr Mikyska stated that, "This year, Armenia has become one of the priority countries. During the project development, Armenia was included among the project priority countries because the government must keep promises given at the beginning of the project. The project focuses on the issues that are currently available in the communities located near mines and promotes the development of a civil society, providing numerous knowledge and opportunities in terms of working with the government in different working stages."
President of EcoLur Informational NGO, Inga Zarafyan, noted that according to the investigation, the mining-driven problems in the communities, besides being an environmental disaster, also are also socio-economic in nature. This is especially accurate when speaking about the industrial town of Alaverdi where there is an increasing tendency to migrate.
Karine Danielyan of the NGO, Sustainable Human Development Association, said: "It was found out that the cancer morbidity rate in Armenia has increased three-fold over the years of independence, and the number of children born with inherent defects has also increased three-fold. Mining areas also have pollution indicators where the Lori Region is the leader of the Syunik Region and Yerevan City."
"The amount of emissions in Alaverdi over one year makes up 30,000 tons," noted Aram Gabrielyan who is a consultant of 'Khazer,' an environmental and cultural NGO. He continues by stating, "for example, during one day, eight carriages of sulfuric acid residues impact the communities-- such amounts of emissions do not exist in the Eurasian region. Alaverdi copper smelting and chimney construction are not in compliance with environmental standards for emissions of a statutory-allowed 30,000 tons. The enterprise pays 150 million AMD instead of 2.5 billion AMD, the aggregate effect exceeds the average emissions over the whole area of Armenia seven times, according to the official data of the Health Ministry."
Roza Julhakyan, an independent expert, proposed to collect all the problems detected by our colleagues, to submit them to the government and suggest to amend the relevant law or rule.
Arnika's Chairman, Martin Skalsky ,remarked that, "when the results of our examination are available, we will compare them with the Armenian, Russian, and European standards and rules. We will present the cause-and-effect connection with the operation of the enterprise, which may serve as grounds to amend the law."
'We could eyewitness how plants get damaged as a result of acid rain. We also spoke to the locals and learned that they have respiratory problems, headaches, digestion problems (nausea), and that the smoke in Alaverdi is emitted 24/7. We took samples from the soil area in children's playgrounds and kindergartens, the hair of the locals, and the eggs laid by the local hens in the area. We also sampled from the riverbed. We also examined Akhtala's tailing dump, which didn't have a fence surrounding it, so both animals and children nearby could easily approach it. It is located at a distance of about 100 meters from the residential area. As a result, people are unavoidably impacted by the tailing dump," Arnika's expert, Nikol Krejcova said.
"We can already apply to RA Nature Protection Minister to establish a register of emissions and pollution, as it is rather difficult to obtain information on pollution in Armenia," Martin Skalsky proposed. He continued, "An EU representative can be invited to our meeting in October where the problems detected by us will be discovered to ask for support."
The original article was published by EcoLur and used by Arnika with the authorization.