One month after Hetq reported that toxic tailings from the Akhtala Mining Enrichment Combine’s Tchotchkan tailing dam were freely flowing into the Akhtala River, nothing has been done either by the state government or the company to halt the lethal discharge.
This reporter and Alaverdi Aarhaus Center Coordinator Anoush Evoyan returned to site on October 24 and saw that the company had taken no measures to repair the tailings dam’s re-circulatory system.
The toxic sludge was flowing into the river at the same rate as during our first visit.
Given that Armenia’s Ministries of Environmental Protection and Emergency Affairs continue to turn a blind eye to the issue, the mining company is in no hurry to repair the non-functioning re-circulatory system.
This malfeasance is in direct contradiction to the pronouncement made to Hetq on September 23 that the company had drafted an extensive environmental program that would include repairing the damaged pipes.
Hetq asked for clarifications from the Lori branch of the State Environmental Inspectorate. Today, Director of the Inspectorate Armen Laplajyan informed us by telephone that office staffers visited the company after our series of articles and were told that the re-circulatory system was working.
We told Laplajyan that we’d be willing to escort his staffers to the tailing dam in order that they see the toxic flow for themselves. He did not respond to our request.
Such indifference begs the question why so much taxpayer money is going to finance a ministry whose inspectors aren’t doing the job they are tasked with?
P.S. Yesterday, we took the above photo of saplings planted by the Akhtala Enrichment Combine at the re-cultivated tailings dam in the vicinity of the St. Mariam Astvatzatzin Church. The dried out saplings are eerie evidence of the crimes being committed against the environment. This tailings dam, set at a pitched location right above the Akhtala River, can easily be swept away by the waterway swollen by the spring melt or heavy rains.