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Mine Tailings Polluting Dzoraget River, Local Politician Asserts

Residents of the northern Armenian city of Stepanavan recently alerted the Green Party of Armenia that the condition of the Dzoraget River near their city is deteriorating day by day.

Environmentalists point out that the ecological threat to Dzoraget River is nothing new: the river has been polluted for years as a result of open-pit mining by Sagamar CJSC for gold deposits.The mine, as well as the Sagamar Ore Processing Plant, is located very close to residential areas.

For several years, residents have been raising the issue of publicly monitoring the company’s activities, but each time Sagamar refuses.

Green Party leader Armenak Dovlatyan told Epress.am after they received the call, his party asked the Aarhus Center in Stepanavan to conduct field studies of the mine. Though the specialists weren’t allowed entry to the mining site, studies conducted off-site, Dovlatyan asserted, proved that tailings from the mine are flowing into the river.

“During this entire time the Ministry of Nature Protection is not responding to our concerns, despite the fact that it has an obligation to implement the Aarhus Convention in Armenia, as well as to directly cooperate with the Network of Aarhus Centers. Information and warnings on Sagamar’s activities have been published repeatedly by Aarhus Centers on their site www.aarhus.am,” he added.

Following concerns raised by the Green Party and Aarhus Center, Ecolor Informational NGO also appealed to the Nature Protection Ministry, asking the state body to respond to the alarms, to conduct inspections in the company and to subsequently make its findings public. The local environmental NGO is also asking the ministry to include members of the public and local residents in its inspections.

Photo: Ecolur Informational NGO