by Karina Manukyan
Armenia ranks mining industry revenues above human health, Head of EcoLur NGO Inga Zarafyan told ArmInfo.
She said that Armenia's regions face a disastrous situation due to the tailing dumps and open-cut mining. The matter concerns the contamination of soil, water and agricultural products. According to various surveys, in the "mining" towns such as Kapan and Kajaran the contamination with toxic metals exceeds the limit by 100 and more times.
Zarafyan stressed that the data related to the negative influence of mining industry on the health of the adjacent communities' residents are concealed from the wide public. In this matter the environmentalists can only rely on the information leakage from certain mining enterprises, where the employees suffer from lung diseases, particularly, silicosis.
The expert thinks that the mining industry is covered by the authorities. She pointed out that the mining companies pay small fines in case of accidents. The biggest amount a company may pay for the serious damage inflicted to the environment is 400 thsd AMD. In the meantime, the inflow of the tails into the rivers and gorges means destruction of fertile soil and irrigation water sources.
"Unfortunately, Armenia ranks the mining industry revenues above the human health", said Zarafyan.
To recall, in 2013 the American University of Armenia and the Blacksmith Institute (USA) surveyed 19 communities of Armenia and revealed soil contamination with heavy metals. The concentration of chrome, cadmium, lead and arsenic in the soil, as well as on the playgrounds of the schools and kindergartens exceeded the maximum concentration limit due to the mining industry and tailing dumps.