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Larisa Paremuzyan

Tchotchkan Tailings Dam a Disaster Waiting to Happen, Mayor Says

Tchotchkan Mayor Samvel Gigolyan is concerned about the tailing dam, property of the Akhtala Mining Enrichment Combine, left over from the Soviet period. He stated that the threat of fissures in the dam is growing by the day.The tailings are in a liquid state and flow down into the gorge, where there is a railway, and into the Debed River. "It can cover the entire valley below. I mean, there are poisons contained in that dam. I really couldn’t say what will happen here," Mayor Gigolyan said. There are signs around the dam warning of its dangers, People and animals are free to enter the site. "The dam had been all but abandoned till now. It seems that they want to operate it again. Some of the canals have been cleaned out but no one is following up on the recultivation," Mayor Gigolyan said. In a January 8, 2010 interview with Hetq, Seyran Minasyan, Deputy Director of the "Hayecomonitoring" SNOC noted the dangers inherent at the dam and pointed out that no one can state categorically who it has belonged to for the last twenty years. "It’s belonged to no one. There are more problems awaiting us. The drainage pipes are clogged and one day the entire dam will fall apart. The outflow will reach down into the Debed River. I’d estimate that there’s 20 million cubic meters of tailings stored in the dam." Despite these red signals, the Akhtala Enrichment Plant continues to skirt its responsibilities to guarantee the safety of the dam. Perhaps American-Armenian businessman Serop Der-Boghosian isn’t aware that he must also adhere to RoA law in his mining operations at Akhtala and Shamlugh. He continues to evade carrying out RoA Government Decision 750, adopted on May 26, 2006, that stipulates recultivation and that safety measures be taken.