вторник, 13 ноября 2007 г.

LETTER TO PRESIDENT KHOCARIIAN FOR SAVING TEGHUT FOREST...

Please sign this letter by sending your name to Andrianna Natsoulas anatsoulas@earthlink.net
President Robert Kocharian
President of the Republic of Armenia
Republic of Armenia, Yerevan 375077, Baghramian Ave., 26.
Armenia
Your Excellency President Kocharian:

We, the undersigned ** organizations and ** individuals, urge you to reconsider allowing the Teghut copper –molybdenum open pit mine to progress. Rather than a modern, economic development, the Teghut mine will only further depress the region through environmental degradation and public health disasters. The region will turn into an undesirable wasteland. That path is certainly not the way forward in the twenty first century. Economic growth does not have to be at the expense of the health of Armenia’s families.
The EIA process is yet incomplete, and a minister from your own cabinet has agreed that a new one should be conducted. It would be imprudent to commence a poorly designed project when multinational banks and other major institutions are increasingly considering environmental and social track records when assessing potential borrowers.
In addition to the banks, Armenian Diasporans worldwide have begun to realize the problems associated with Armenia’s rapid economic growth—and they are beginning to worry for the future of the place they consider their homeland. What you do in one small community of Armenia could impact the nation’s future in a variety of ways. We implore you to allow a proper EIA before commencing the Teghut project.
The Armenian Copper Programme completed the Environmental Impact Assessment process in the summer of 2007. We have grave concerns that the EIA was not thorough. For example, it ignored the cross border pollution of the Dbed River, which will most likely be the resting point of heavy metals, from the tailing dump. It also did not include any ideas to mitigate environmental destruction.
Although the previous Minister of Nature Protection already granted a permit for Teghut mine, the new Minister recently acknowledged that the original EIA was biased and has called for a new one to be conducted. Despite the granting of the natural resources permit your other relevant Ministries have not been fully consulted - Davit Lokyan, the Minister of Agriculture, Harutyun Kushkyan, the Minister of Health and Hasmik Poghosyan, the Minister of Culture; thus, disregarding the repercussions the mine would have on the forests, community health and ancient artifacts.
ACP already has a bad track record at its Alaverdi smelter. That smelter continues to operate without filters, causing serious health and atmospheric problems.
In 2002 the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development granted ACP three million U.S. dollars to install wet scrubbers to decrease the amount of pollution. To date, the scrubbers have not yet been installed. ACP should not be rewarded with permits for a new mine when their current facilities are not up to par with modern environmental protection mechanisms.
The Armenian Copper Programme is promising long term economic development to the region - 1,400 new jobs as a result of the mine. This story was told before. Previously, Mr. Valery Medzhlumyan, ACP’s owner and president, promised Alaverdi residents 2,000 new jobs, yet barely 700 people are actually employed there. Not all villagers in the Teghut region are excited about a slim possibility of employment opportunities in light of the resulting environmental degradation.
Over half of the neighboring villages of Teghut have refused to sell their lands to the mine for exploitation. Rather than job security Teghut communities will be left with ailing health problems and a desecrated environment.
Pollutants from the mine’s processing facilities would include carbon monoxide, nitrous dioxide, arsenic and lead. Air pollution from similar copper processors, including ACP’s Alaverdi smelter, is linked to health problems amongst local communities, including female infertility, cardiovascular disease, malignant growths and respiratory diseases. In addition, evidence exists that the pollution causes birth defects. No birth anomalies were recorded in Alaverdi in 1992 when the factory was idle, but in 2001, 28 cases of birth defects were registered and 107 cases in 2004. How will birth defects benefit Armenia’s next generation, Armenia’s future?

Extractive mining contributes to global climate change through deforestation and emissions of sulfur dioxide during the smelting process. The open-pit mine proposed by the ACP would destroy acres upon acres of significant forests. If this rate of deforestation continues to be permitted, by 2030 Armenia will have no more forests. Climate change is currently being felt in every corner of the world – the melting of polar ice caps, severe droughts in Africa and immense flooding in Europe and the United States. Hotter and longer summers have become a global trend; yet forests continue to be needlessly and carelessly cut. Maintaining the last of the world’s forests is one step towards global environmental responsibility.
Alternatives do exist. Although the need to alleviate poverty in Armenia is vitally important, poverty cannot be alleviated without the sustainable use of natural resources. Luckily, Teghut, with its rich, virgin forests, is a prime candidate for ecotourism. Ecotourism works to promote both environmental conservation as well as sustainable development opportunities and is already a growing industry within Armenia and across Europe. Ecotourism allows a country to enjoy economic development and environmental protection at the same time—it is the global industry of the twenty first century. The record numbers of Armenian Diasporans coming to Armenia to explore their ancestry are encouraging; the destruction of nature and public health, however, has sent many of them home with serious concerns for the future of the country.
Pursuant to a thorough EIA, the Teghut forest would best serve the country as a protected area that will preserve the health of the country and develop economic growth by incorporating sustainable forest industries and attracting tourists. Please consider the local, national, regional and global implications of allowing the Teghut copper-molybdenum mine to move forward. Others will. You have the power to stop it and build a better future for Armenia.

Sincerely yours,
cc:
Serge Sargsyan, Prime Minister
Hasmik Poghosyan, Minister of Culture
Davit Lokyan, Minister of Agriculture
Aram Harutyunyan, Minister of Environmental Protection
Harutyun Kushkyan, Minister of Health Care

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