Azerbaijan may face next wave of ecocide by Armenia
800 metres far from contamination / Caliber.Az on YouTube
MULTIMEDIA 07 June 2023 - 13:56
A new wave of negative impact on the environment of the South Caucasus is imminent given the collaboration of a US-licensed company with the Armenian government for building a big metallurgical factory in the latter’s territory.
An Armenian-American enterprise GTB STEEL LLC, which was established in Armenia last year, is pressing ahead with the facility’s construction near the border with Azerbaijan. The company's shares are equally divided between Armenian residents Nono Sargsyan and an Indian-origin US citizen Bobby Singh Kang. The director of the company is Tigran Akopyan. Meanwhile, Nono Sargsyan is the niece of the late Prime Minister of Armenia, Sparapet Vazgen Sargsyan - the daughter of his brother Armen Sargsyan.
The factory is reportedly located in the village of Yeraskh (Arazdeyen in Azerbaijani toponym) - 800 metres from Azerbaijan’s southwestern Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic exclave, the entire northern and eastern edges of which are surrounded by Armenian soil.
“A large Armenian-American metallurgical plant is being built in Yeraskh [Arazdeyen in Azerbaijani toponym] at the expense of investments of $70 million. The building measures 30 metres in height and sits on an area of 16,500 square meters. The plant will annually produce 180,000 tons of products," Armenia’s Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan announced last week, posting footage from the factory’s construction site.
The metallurgical facility’s construction is hailed by the Armenian government as a strong impetus to the economic growth of the country and alleviation of the reliance on the costly import of relevant products. Kerobyan also joyfully highlighted the factory’s contribution to employment, which, according to him, will serve as a permanent workplace for a total of 1,000 people after its launch.
In the meantime, Yerevan’s Economy Ministry confirmed that the enterprise has already passed all environmental impact assessment procedures and will be equipped with modern production facilities.
However, environmental analysts are not siding with the Armenian government in light of ecological safety. They are convinced that the all-new heavy industry complex will lead to pollution of the environment with toxic waste released from the plant.
Baku-based ecologist Telman Zeynalov says the construction and operation of a metallurgical plant always carry a risk.
“Risks associated with environmental pollution, negative impact on nature. These are emissions of harmful substances; these are discharges of harmful substances into water resources ... This is the formation of a large amount of extremely hazardous waste. All this must be taken into account in a facility’s design,” Zeynalov told CBC TV Azerbaijan.
According to Zeynalov, the factory’s location near Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan and Türkiye triggers even bigger cross-border risks.
“I would draw attention to the need for international control over the project, its monitoring so that all design solutions that will be applied there are under the control of the international environmental community,” he noted.
The metallurgical industry causes great devastation of both terrestrial and aquatic environments on a local and regional scale. Mines and smelters produce large quantities of waste, which must be deposited on land or in aquatic systems. The major effects are due to pollution of air, soil, river water, and groundwater with heavy metals.
In Armenia, the metallurgy sector has traditionally been the leading branch of the heavy industry, centring mainly on the production of copper, ferromolybdenum, molybdenum concentrate, aluminium foil, steel pipes, zinc concentrate and others. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia was the third copper-producing country among the Union republics leaving ahead only Russia and Kazakhstan.
The country experienced a year-on-year increase in the manufacturing industry, including metallurgy over the past years. In 2022, metal production stood at $441.5 million, with aluminium production at 36%, steel and other ferrous products at 35%, and precious metals at 25%. The manufacture of fabricated metal products generated $41 million.
2022 statistical data on manufacturing in Armenia
The ecocide caused by the Armenian heavy industry enterprises has been common due to mismanaged and obsolete waste-discharge systems. Azerbaijan has long suffered from the contamination of its water resources by the toxic wastes released from the Armenian metallurgical facilities.
The Zangazur Copper-Molybdenum Plant is one of the largest heavy industry enterprises in Armenia. The factory has been known for its negative impact on the environment in Armenia and beyond its borders, including in Azerbaijan.
In November 2022, a village nearby the factory was flooded with contaminated water due to an explosion in the waste warehouse. Moreover, wastewater discharged from the factory has been polluting the Okchu River running through the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The contamination of the Okhchu River, one of the eleven rivers of Azerbaijan in Karabakh, which is home to more than 30 per cent of the country’s overall drinking water reserves, has been a great concern for the Azerbaijani authorities over the years.
Consequences of the Armenian ecocide in the Okhchu River
Baku blamed the Armenian authorities for not preventing the pollution of the river, the water of which is not used in Armenia and flows into Azerbaijan’s agriculturally important Araz River. The Okhchu River is said to be used as a “collector” by Armenia’s producers for sending away the industrial wastes from the country’s territory and causing agricultural, environmental, and humanitarian disasters in Azerbaijan. The analysis of the samples taken from the Okhchu River revealed many life-threatening elements in the water, including copper, molybdenum, manganese, iron, zinc, and chromium. According to the examination results, the amount of nickel in the river was seven times, iron four times, and copper-molybdenum two times higher than normal.
Now, the upcoming factory near the landlocked Nakchivan Autonomous Republic exclave of Azerbaijan rings alarm bells of the next wave of colossal ecocide by Armenia. Given the proximity of the plant to Nakhchivan, leaves no doubt that the region will be subjected to ecological terror by the Armenian side. To stop the destruction of nature, there should be an international reaction and collaboration. Otherwise, it would lead to irreversible consequences to the resources and people in a greater region …
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