BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Surprise, surprise, surprise… not!
I was shocked, shocked, to learn from a very brief news item a few days ago of a breach in the Teghood (Teghout/Teghut) copper and molybdenum mine’s tailings* pond resulting in the toxic liquids retained therein flowing into the Teghood River, thence to the Shnogh, and on to the Tepet /Debed rivers. I’m still hoping this is not true since it has not been widely reported as of this writing, but my guts tell me it is all too real.
What makes this all the more “wonderful” is that upstream, in the town of Aghtala, another mining operation has filled up its tailings containment area and is seeking permission to dump its future tailings in a mine that is no longer being exploited. Meanwhile, guess where their toxic sludge is being dumped – right into the Tepet /Debed River. Just for good measure, this stuff is being channeled through a flood control ditch that runs behind people’s homes. Quite expectably, the kids, and even adults, are displaying various health problems.
The icing on the cake is that the Tepet runs through Alaverdi, too, further upstream. That town is also known for its own toxic mining emissions issues. How about buying some real estate along this stretch of river? If I were the Tiflis/Tbilisi, I would be quite disturbed by all this, since that’s where the river eventually goes, into the Armenian regions of Georgia.
Meanwhile, in Ashdarag/Ashtarak, in another instance of what appears to be a case of government officials abusing their positions for personal gain, the Chief of Staff, Davit Sukiasian, of the Republic of Armenia’s (RoA) Special Investigative Service has gotten a special dispensation. One of his companies, ML Mining, will be permitted to import equipment customs-duty free. Given how poorly operated mines are in the RoA, the new operation ML Mining seeks to start, an open pit mine for basalt and ores, will no doubt continue the country’s toxification.
As if this wasn’t bad enough on the toxics/pollution/bad policy front, the Armenian Weekly, reporting on the soon-to-be-built sanitary landfill for Yerevan, noted that toxic liquid leaching out of the current Noubarashen landfill can no longer be contained. It has formed a “river” of leachate that is already impacting people.
Meanwhile, some 7200 miles west of the RoA, in the “heart” of the Los Angeles basin’s Armenian mega-community, the city of Glendale is in the process of studying how to replace its aging, 80ish-year-old natural gas fired electricity generating plants. Unfortunately, the proposal that has come forth is to build another gas plant, with much more capacity than Glendale’s highest projected needs. It is suspected that the intent is to sell excess electricity to help with the city’s financial woes. But, even that doesn’t make sense. California is headed towards a 100% renewably (solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, etc.) generated electricity future. Before the new power plant’s life expires, it could well be rendered useless. Thus, it would COST rather earn the city’s residents money. On January 23, 150-200 people showed up at the Glendale City Council meeting to make their voice heard. On February 6, the Council will formally discuss the process. Citizens want an independent consultant to do the work and consider renewable alternatives to natural gas. The current consultant also supplies gas fired equipment, which creates a conflict of interest, since they stand to benefit, handsomely, if the city goes with gas.
In both places we have the opportunity to do the right thing. Armenians are 100% of the decision makers in the RoA and 80 percent (4 of 5 city council members) in Glendale. Regardless of where you live, talk up our homeland’s toxics, especially mining, problems. If you live in Glendale or nearby, you will likely be impacted by whatever this city decides, so show up to the February 6 city council meeting at 6 pm (corner of Broadway and Glendale) and speak your mind.
* Tailings are the waste products of mining operations and are generally fairly dense liquids or rocks. They tend to be quite toxic.