Toxic tailings from the Akhtala Enrichment Combine owned by Metal Prince Ltd. continue to be freely dumped into the Debed River in northern Armenia.
Meanwhile, Armenia’s Ministry of the Environment continues to claim that testing of water samples from the Debed and Ouchkulisa rivers has shown no such contaminants.
At noon on October 10, the waters of the Debed River in the Akhtala-Ayroum stretch were a greyish tint. Local residents also noticed the difference.
An accident earlier that same day to the pipes transporting the wastes from the plant to the Tchotchkan tailings dump was the culprit.
It took one and a half days for the plant to remedy the problem.
It appears that the pipes cannot effectively carry all the concentrated wastes being pumped through. They get clogged and result in such environmental disasters.
When we got to the site, workers from the plant were on a stanchion carrying the pipes over a ravine. They refused to talk to us and turned away from the cameras.
The plant had shut down the flow of wastes to allow for repairs.
A few minutes later, Lyova Vardanyan, the plant director, arrived on the scene. Soon after, a truck carrying new sections of pipe drove up.
We asked Mr. Vardanyan what was going on and why had wastes flowed into the river below.
“Nothing has happened. We’re just doing some technical maintenance,” was his response.
We asked if the pipes had been clogged up.
“No, no. The pipes are fine,” said Vardanyan, who also serves on the Akhtala town council.
He refused to answer any more questions.