Armenia: Alaverdi Copper Smelting emits toxic pollution – EBRD-funded filters not installed, says NGO

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Company response
6 April 2012

[Alaverdi Copper Programme response

Author: Vahram Avagyan, Alaverdi Copper Programme

...[W]e do acknowledge...that the environmental safety of Alaverdi copper smelter is far from...satisfactory. The main reason for that is lack of any off‐gas treatment, resulting in emission of the entire volume of sulfur dioxide to the atmosphere. Until...mid‐2011...the grade of sulfur dioxide has exceeded maximum permissible levels by up to 12 times...[T]he solution of this core problem does not lie in mere use of filters...[W]e are currently investigating the possibilities of launching the electrostatic precipitator...If proved feasible, it should allow decreasing the amount of dust emitted to the atmosphere...Fundamental resolution of the environmental problems at the Alaverdi copper smelter associated with the off‐gas emissions can be seen only through off‐gas utilization for the production of by‐products like sulfuric acid...[T]hrough modifications conducted to the operation of converters and off‐gas collection system, it was possible...to decrease the share of disorganized emissions to...3 percent of total emissions...[T]he new chimney flue was launched...[M]aximum permissible concentrations now exceeded by only 1.1‐1.5 times...

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Article
29 March 2012

Alaverdi Copper Smelting emissions continually discussed, but no filters placed so far [Armenia]

Author: EcoLur Network

Alaverdi Copper Smelting Company, belonging to “Vallex” Company Group, has been operating years without any filters thus emitting into atmosphere sulfuric anhydride, heavy metals and compounds toxic for human organisms. About 25,000 tons of sulfuric anhydride had been emitted till 2011. With the funds of the European Reconstruction and Development Bank “Vallex” Company Group it obtained filters for extracting sulfuric anhydride, but hasn’t placed them so far explaining with low production rates and absence of sulfuric acid market. What about heavy metals and dust, they are still kept on being discussed...“If we can put electrofilters in the chimney, we will reduce the emission of heavy metals into atmosphere by 98% and inorganic dust, which spreads into the air reservoir of the town, will also get reduced by 80-83%,” said Artak Demirtchyan, Lori Regional Municipality Environmental Department Head...[The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Alaverdi Copper Programme to respond. Alaverdi Copper Programme’s response is below.]

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