Wednesday, 26 September

Environment Minister Tours Lori; Promises to Get Tough on Violators

Yesterday, Armenian Minister of Nature Environment Aramayis Grigoryan toured Lori Province on a fact-finding mission. He visited the Tchotchkan tailings dam owned by Metal Prince Ltd. Hetq caught up with the minister and asked him some questions.

The recirculation system at the Tchotchkan tailings dam has been out of service for several years. Thus, toxic wastes are periodically flowing into the Debed River. What will your ministry do to resolve this matter?

We have conversed with management and they will be fulfilling their obligations in full in the future. Such problems will not occur. Toxic wastes will no longer flow into the river. We will apply tough penalties to remove any such risks. That’s the reason for us being here today; to see for ourselves and understand the situation. Area residents and environmentalists have expressed their concerns and the problem must be fixed.

Are you aware of the environmental risks emanating from the Debed River? First, there are the risks posed to the fields in villages of Metz Ayroum, Tchotchkan and Shnogh by using water from the river for irrigation.

Your question is on target. Today, we are only collecting the facts on the ground. The head of the environmental inspectorate has informed me about certain problems. We will study them. We have reached an agreement with the regional governor and will take drastic steps in future.

But the company must also be able to resolve its own issues. Again, we will enact penalties and fines for waste discharges. Manufacturers will be in for a tough time if they don’t resolve their problems.

What were your impressions upon touring the Teghout mining operation?

Work hasn’t been completed. It’s still the preliminary stage. What’s interesting is that all new technology is being installed. A closed-cycle system is being employed; a first for Armenia. We will be cooperating with Teghout CJSC to see that environmental problems don’t occur. I hope that it will all work out.

Environmental fees paid by the Alaverdi Copper-Molybdenum Combine have decreased from 444 million AMD to 100 million after monitoring conducted by your ministry. What’s your reaction?

If indeed the fees have decreased I will study the matter and get back to you.

What do you have to say about illegal tree logging? Are you aware that a legal permit issued by HayAntar to log four cubic meters of trees has been used to fell seven times that amount?

Such problems exist. If you follow our press releases you will see the fines and penalties we have issued for such violations. But the problem won’t be solved in this manner. Each of us must become an environmentalist and fight against such incidents. We will be working with the police to take specific steps to punish those involved in illegal logging.

Photo: Minister Aramayis Grigoryan (center)

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