FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Environmental Film No. 9: “Poisoning for Profit”
The ninth in a series of environmental films produced by Vem Media Arts in Armenia, titled “Poisoning for Profit” was released on World Environment Day. The documentary was funded by Armenia Tree Project, Armenian Forests NGO, World Wildlife Fund Caucasus Office, and the Greens Union of Armenia.
There are 630 mines operating in Armenia today, which include copper, gold, decorative stone, and other minerals. Foreign companies are also exploring for uranium mines in the Getik River Valley and other parts of Armenia. “Uranium is a mineral of strategic importance, but I can state that there are no confirmed, registered reserves as such,” according to the head of underground resources at the Ministry of Nature Protection.
Armenia is one of the top 10 world suppliers of molybdenum, and one of the more active plants is located in Zangezour near the Kajaran copper mine. “The plant is a source of immense pollution, but the tailings at Kajaran are hidden under a green cover,” states the narrator. In fact, the residents of Kajaran need to be relocated because of the tailings and pollution from the plant.
“Even the remediated soil contains heavy metals that accumulate in fruit-bearing plants. When they get into the food chain they cause organ damage, sterility, genetic mutations, and weaken the immune system. The problem can be solved only by moving the town away from the plant’s zone,” declares the film.
The villagers of Geghanoush have become victims of mine pollution, and now they have to buy food instead of growing it themselves. “Not a single crop grows in the village because of the waste dump and its toxic tracks,” reveals the head of the local community.
Tailings waste flows into the Voghji River in Syunik village, passing through residential gardens, fruit orchards, and other cultivated land, contaminating vegetables, fruit, and animals. “They didn’t realize the magnitude of the danger until their children got sick,” states the narrator. “For the damage caused, Dino Gold Mining paid a fine of $28,000 (US) to the government and reimbursement of $2,800 (US) to the villagers--not a big fine for damaging the health and the environment of an entire village.”
“We, the population, gain almost nothing from the mining industry, in terms of improvement of social conditions or strengthening the country strategically. The main profits from mining goes to the owners and those who mediate granting them mining licenses. That’s it! We are left with vanished pastures and lands, and a polluted environment,” states Hagop Sanasaryan, head of the Greens Union of Armenia.
“The mines produce huge cavities in the mountains. During the ore processing, the ground up powder is further treated, using cyanide or other methods. The waste enters the air, the soil, and ultimately pollutes the irrigation and drinking water,” concludes Sanasaryan in the film.
Written by Inga Zarafyan, produced by Manuk Hergnyan, and
directed by Hayk Kbeyan, the 23-minute documentary “Poisoning for
Profit” is being made available for personal and public viewing
in DVD format. To acquire a copy of the film in the diaspora with English
subtitles, contact Armenia Tree Project via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.