After this reporter traveled to the Sarahart neighborhood in Akhtala and saw waste products from the nearby mine being dumped directly into the local creek, my advice would be to avoid any produce irrigated by the water or fish taken from the Debed River.
The effluents were being carried from a pipe directly from the Akhtala mining enrichment plant that is owned by Serob Der-Boghossian; the diaspora Armenian businessman now serving jail time for paedophilia.
That the wastes are being dumping directly into the local water supply isn’t new.
When asked about the issue, Akhtala Mayor Haykaz Khachikyan said that flows are year round and that he believes the water is the excess from the circulatory system of the Akhtala tailings dam. But the mayor wasn’t sure.
Neither was Orbeli Tarminyan, an assistant to the general manager at Metal Prince, the company that owns and operates the mine.
"I couldn’t tell you right now. Let me investigate and I’ll get back to you a bit later," was his response.
When he did get back to Hetq, Tarminyan confirmed that the waste water was the tailings dam’s recirculatory system.
"The company has drafted a plan to stop such flows. I’ll get in touch with you as to the deadline for doing so," Tarminyan said.
We got the same answer back in June when Hetq broke the story about the effluents a6t Akhtala being dumped into the river. When queried, top management said they would look into the matter and get back to us.
But all this goes to show that the circulatory system at the Tchotchkan tailings dam hasn’t been operating for several years and tat the tailings are being conveniently piped into the river.
Probably the biggest tragedy of all is that Debed River water is used to irrigate the fields of several nearby communities.
In the past, when Hetq has exposed what is going on in Akhtala, inspectors from the Ministry of the Environment go through the motions of investigating the matter. They publish their findings which are not made public.
One can only assume that the government is turning a blind eye to such serious health and environmental violations in the name of spurring the development of the mining sector in Armenia - a sector that provides huge short-term profits for some.