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Gagik Aghbalyan

Another Chernobyl? Village Mayors Claim They Haven't Agreed to Proposed Mine in Armenia's Vayots Dzor


 While Armenia’s environmental ministry has negatively reacted to the business plan of Vayk Metal to operate a mine in the province of Vayots Dzor, local residents are concerned that the plan will go ahead, turning their lives into a hell on earth.

Vayk Metal has gone to court, seeking to overturn the negative environmental impact assessment returned by the ministry.

Theoretically, the company can also amend the plan to make it more acceptable to the ministry.

Yesterday, in Yerevan, the Aarhus Center organized a debate on the company’s plan to operate the mine. No one from Vayk Metal showed up, despite being invited.

Karineh Movsisyan, from the environmental ministry’s environmental impact assessment division, said that Vayk Metal, in its original business plan, failed to note the potential ecological risks to local communities and to the nearby Yeghegnadzor National Reserve.

When this reporter asked if the plan could be submitted in the future, after being modified and amended, Movsisyan said: “Science is constantly advancing, so is equipment. Perhaps it will be possible to operate this mine without damaging the environment.”

Hakob Sanasaryan, president of the Greens Union of Armenia, noted that the mountains of Armenia were being scalped and the underground water reserves defiled just so that mining companies could make a bit of cash.

Sanasaryan also presented a map showing uranium deposits scattered throughout the mine area, adding that mining would expose the dangerous ore into the atmosphere and water.

Vernashen village council member Gegham Margaryan said the mine would create a second Chernobyl.

Mikayel Baghdasaryan, mayor of Vernashen, a village near the proposed mine, said that no one from the community had agreed to the business plan as presented.

Movsisyan said that a preliminary agreement had been reached with the village’s previous mayor.

Gladzor Mayor Armen Movsisyan and Baghdasaryan claimed that neither they, nor their predecessors, had agreed to the plan.

Gegham Margaryan said that he had reviewed all the decisions taken by the council and could find no such agreement.

Photo: Gegham Margaryan, Karineh Movsisyan, Hakob Sanasaryan

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