Residents of Alaverdi Being Poisoned With Sulfuric Acid

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–After a month’s interval–residents of the town of Alaverdi in northern Armenia–came under another environmental attack. The Alaverdi copper concentrate-processing plant owned by the "Vallex" company resumed its work without being equipped with a titanium filter to control pollutant emissions–despite the widespread public demand for such precautions.

It has been two years since the public has launched an environmental campaign demanding to breath air free of sulfuric acid components.

Local activists (225 petitions were sent to the president and the prime minister) said a sharp decline in birth-rate has been observed in their region–while the number of miscarriages has increased. Other medical conditions dominating the region are nose bleeds–respiratory diseases.

The Ministry of Health also confirmed the unfavorable environmental conditions in the region.

The poor condition of the concrete walls of an arsenic wastes depository was also highlighted as a cause for concern.

Local campaigners have repeatedly given warnings that the arsenic wastes were washed into the Debed river through torrential rains.

The management of the company exerted pressure on the most active campaigners by threatening them with layoffs and disconnecting telephone lines. The residents collected a package of documen’s and handed it over to experts from the Environmental Public Advocacy Center. The documen’s were submitted to the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The Council of Senior Citizens in Alaverdi expressed its dissatisfaction to the president of the "Vallex" company Valeriy Mezhlumian–and the chairman of the "Vallex" Orbeli Tarminian.

This problem has received wide press coverage by such influential newspapers as the Yerkir and Azg –the Iravunk weekly and others.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has yet to sign the findings report by environmental experts–without which the company would not be allowed to resume operation.

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