Research on toxic chemicals will debunk the pollution dispute in Northern Armenia thanks to Czech experts

17.7.2019 - ALAVERDI
Mets Ayrum, tailing pond full of toxic water
PHOTO: Martin Holzknecht / Arnika

Analysis on the presence of harmful chemicals in the environment will be realized in Lori Province. The locals suffer from serious contamination with heavy metals and other substances due to local mining and the metallurgical industry. Researchers, together with a Czech NGO, Arnika, and local initiatives, will publish the results by the end of 2019. “Also, we will educate the locals on how to use our data to ensure a healthier life for themselves,” said Arnika’s chairman, Martin Skalsky.

Farmers and villagers from the Lori Province strive for a non-toxic environment, allegedly caused by copper and molybdenum acquiring activities in Alaverdi, Akhtala, and Teghout. According to 2018 research, the vicinity of the smelting power plant and the surrounding mines are highly polluted by copper, zinc, molybdenum, lead and arsenic.

“Further sampling is necessary, since no effective precautions have been taken in this matter thus far. Presenting scientific evidence of hazardous contamination is the only way to push responsible bodies to face their responsibilities, and eventually improve living conditions for Armenian people,” stated Oleg Dulgaryan, director of the Center for Community Mobilization and Support (CCMS) from Alaverdi.

For this purpose, CCMS teamed up with the Czech non-governmental organization, Arnika, and the Yerevan-based information portal, EcoLur. The result of the analysis will be presented by the end of this year.

Healing poisoned nature around Debed
In addition to conducting scientific research, Arnika's experts will meet local residents to discuss the next possible steps to minimize the negative impact of pollution on their health.

“Between July 19 and July 26, we will visit the major hot spots and talk to the mayors, farmers, and journalists to try and find a possible solution to this troubling situation,” according to Miroslava Jopkova. Arnika's mission is funded by the Transition Promotion Program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. Researchers will also meet with head of mission at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Yerevan, Jan Plesinger, on July 22 in Alaverdi.

Last year, scientists from the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague analyzed chicken eggs, soil, and sediments from the Debed River. Samples extracted just below the industrial sites showed a rapid increase in copper levels, proving the contamination of heavy metals as a direct effect of mining and metallurgy on the surrounding environment.

In February, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled in favor of the six farmers from Lori. For violating their property rights in the mining activities in the region, the government was fined € 70,000 in total through the Armenian courts.

 

WHEN

EVENT

PLACE

PARTICIPANTS

17.07

14: 00-18: 00

SWOT analysis of NGO Center for Community Mobilization and Support

Martin dating in Arnika

Alaverdi, CCMS office

Representatives of CCMS NGO

19.07

09: 00-18: 00

Campaigning - Planning of campaings

Martin Skalsky, Miroslava Jopkova, Valeriya Gretchko and Anna Zagrebelna

Alaverdi, CCMS office

CCMS representatives,

local activists,

People from Akhtala dating in Alaverdi

20.07

09: 00-18: 00

Alaverdi, Akhtala

Oleg Dulgaryan, Martin Skalsky, Miroslava Jopkova, Valeriya Gretchko, Anna Zagrebelna, Arthur Grigoryan

Alaverdi,

Akhtala

CCMS - Oleg Dulgaryan, Arthur Grigoryan, Ecolur, Arnika - Martin Skalsky

Miroslava Jopkova, Valeriya Gretchko and Anna Zagrebelna

20.07

09: 00-18: 00

Media training

Anna Zagrebelna

Alaverdi, CCMS office

CCMS, people from Akhtala, Alaverdi, Arnika, Martin Skalsky,

Miroslava Jopkova, Valeriya Gretchko and Anna Zagrebelna

21.07-26.07

Sampling

Alaverdi,

Akhtala

Vaclav Mach, Jan Matustik, Valeriya Gretchko, Miroslava Jopkova, Oleg and others from CCMS, journalists

22.08 afternoon

Meeting with representatives of the Czech Embassy in Yerevan

Alaverdi

Miroslav Jopkova, Oleg Dulgaryan, Valeriya Gretchko, Inga Zarafyan, Arthur Grigoryan, journalists

 

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