Problems with the Nahatak tailing dump continue: other residents report health problems

30.4.2020 - METS AYRUM
Nahatak tailing dump

Although there has recently been a breakthrough in environmental activism in the village of Mets Ayrum, where a local mining company has offered compensation to a family living near its tailing dump - de facto acknowledging its negative impact on the environment - the problems around the Nahatak tailing dump continue. The health of the villagers remains at risk - as evidenced by the story of Arthur Mikoyan, who had to go to the hospital with his five-month-old grandson.

Arthur Mikoyan's grandson, who is only five months old, had to be taken to a hospital with respiratory problems, where he stayed for two days. Mikoyan believes that the family living near the Nahatak tailing dump, owned by the mining company Akhtala CJSC, plays a role in the child's health problems. He claims that most of the inhabitants of the village of Mets Ayrum, where the tailing dump is located, suffer from headaches and other problems. "When we asked them why they didn't put some technology in there to prevent air pollution, they told us it was a luxury and there was no money for it," Arthur Mikoyan said of the miners' reaction.

The inhabitants of Mets Ayrum suffer not only from health problems but also from economic ones. "If you grow something here, you take it to Alaverdi. But when people there find out where the products come from, they don't want to buy them, they say they are poisoned. And we eat that food. In addition, we irrigate here with water from the Debed River, which is also polluted. White and yellow sediments are visible at the bottom, "Mikoyan explained.

Last year, Arnika, in collaboration with the partner organization CCMS, carried out research in the mining areas of northern Armenia that confirmed soil pollution by toxic substances. This year, Arnika and partners are preparing research into the health impacts of mining - the first of its kind. Urine samples will be taken from the population of the affected areas. Unfortunately, research into the health effects of pollution at the state level is not yet being done in Armenia. Although the Armenian Ministry of Health has already developed a methodology for analyzing the health effects of pollution, it is still awaiting approval by experts from the World Health Organization.

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