Armenia is missing protective measures to neutralize the wastes of mining and emissions of mining companies, despite the fact that:
- RA Code on Subsoil has been amended twice,
- Amendments were made to RA Law “On Wastes”,
- institutional changes having occurred,
- Armenia joined the international initiative on mining transparency - EITI (Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative),
- Foreign activities in mining sector are laid down as priorities in investments,
Currently operating enterprises and companies don’t bear any real responsibility for environmental pollution, don’t bear statutory social commitments before local populations in the impacted communities. A specifically worrying situation relates to the health of population living in the places of mining and non-ferrous metal industry. In her interview with EcoLur, Yelena Manvelyan, President of “Women for Health and Healthy Environment” NGO, PhD in Medical Sciences, gave an assessment of the impact of heavy metals and toxic elements.
“Sorrowful statistics of cancer morbidity in Armenia is not accidental, where Armenia is a leader in case of a number of cancer diseases – breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer etc. It’s beyond any doubt that the pollution of the environment here plays a decisive role. Heavy metals penetrate into the human organism through all biological barriers – lungs, skin, mucous, GIT with food, air, and water. Many heavy metals form stable complexes with organic substances, which enables them moving far distances in a dissolved state,” Yelena Manvelyan said.
In reply to the question how heavy metals are hazardous for human health, she said, “The fatal effect of the excess of heavy metals and toxic elements start at cellular level causing intoxication and mutation. They block the performance of the ferments, which are responsible for clearly defined reactions of the organism. They disturb the permeability of the membrane of the cells, which, in its turn, leads to the disturbance of homeostasis of cells and cells start producing new substances, which are not particular to the organism, thus changing the natural rhythm. Heavy metals get out of the organism at low rates, they residue in the liver, kidney, vessels thus decreasing their filtration ability. Irreversible processes start, when heavy metals reach our nervous system,” Manvelyan said.
She outlined that the problems of mining sector don’t have a kind of unified nature, but reflect the whole situation. “Businesses avoid the responsibility for violations related to their activities. Any mechanisms of feedback between local communities and companies are missing. In their turn, local communities don’t possess clear and honest information about the impact of emissions and mining wastes on health and don’t know how to protect their health and habitat.”
Yelena Manvelyan expressed a hope that the new project of Arnika organization from Czech Republic (implemented with the financial support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic) in partnership with “Women for Health and Healthy Environment” NGO and “EcoLur” Informational NGO will help to protect the rights of population living in one of the “hottest” mining areas occupying Shnogh/Teghout, Alaverdi and Akhtala communities to health and healthy environment. “In order to achieve significant results, we will use various strategies and methods, including the analyses of the samples of soil, water and products grown in these territories. The outcomes of the project will be widely discussed and covered in the mass media,” Yelena Manvelyan said.
13:38 May 10, 2018