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Armenian Villagers Demand Compensation for Damage Caused by Toxic Tailings

Residents of the village of Geghanush in Armenia's Syunik province demand that authorities compensate them for the harm they have suffered because of the tailings dam built and operated not far from their village by “Dundee Precious Metals – Kapan” mining company, Regional Monitoring Institute NGO said in a statement issued Friday, January 22. The villagers claim that the tailings have had serious impact on the physical health of more than half of local population.

“On the outskirts of [Geghanush], all the residents have died from tumors. Babies are born sick and immediately transferred to children's hospitals,” villager Amalya Martirosyan told the organization. 

Local doctor Sarik Atajyan noted that the number of malignant tumors has grown rapidly in the village: “Osteoporosis is not uncommon either: it's a side effect of lack of calcium due to heavy metals.”

38-year-old Khoren Mkrtchyan, once engaged in cattle-breeding and bee-keeping, currently owns neither cattle nor bees: “I had bought six mother pigs, but all the piglets were born blind and unable to move. I also had hens, but they've all died. Nearly 1,6 million bees also died within a month.”

The villagers, as stated by the NGO, can't engage in farming either since the land itself has become toxic, and the trees do not produce fruit. The locals, however, have yet to receive any compensation for their losses.

Regional Monitoring Institute has started a petition to resolve the issues and compensate the harm the usage of the tailings dam has caused the locals. The petition has been signed by 184 Geghanush residents, and Dundee Precious Metals – Kapan representatives have set up a meeting in Geghanush Friday afternoon to hear the villagers' concerns.