Environmental activists demand disclosure of the results of the special commission on Soyudlu
Events in Soyudlu
Although two weeks have passed since the establishment of a special commission under the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan to study the environmental situation in the village of Soyudlu in the Gadabay region of Azerbaijan, no results have been announced to the public. Environmental activists demand the publication of the results of the commission’s work. According to the head of Eco-front, Javid Gara, the silence of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources indicates a worsening situation.
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The public organization Eco-front announced the start of multidirectional actions to bring to the attention of the world community the truth about the unwillingness of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources (MENR) of Azerbaijan to report the results of the work of the government commission in the village of Soyudlu.
“They can’t even claim that there is no harm from the operation of the gold mining enterprise in the Soyudlu, because they know that if they claim this, they will be disgraced,” Eco-front comments.
One of the actions of the public organization is the collection of signatures demanding that the results of the commission’s activities be made public.
“On the day when the Ministry of Ecology checked the air quality in Soyudlu and announced that the air was normal, it was rainy there, the temperature reached +14-16 degrees. The ministry itself says that under such conditions, tests may reflect the result inaccurately. Of course, this is an inaccurate result. In general, there is no laboratory infrastructure in the ministry. They lie.
This is not a problem that can be solved by buying test equipment. Periodic calibration required. Research experience required. We don’t have all that. The ministry does not want to publish the results of comprehensive analyzes. But the results are clear. They were sent to the cabinet of ministers. That is, the situation is bad. Otherwise, now they would be shouting at the top of their voices, ”Javid Gara, head of the independent environmental organization Eco-front, wrote on Facebook.
Events in Soyudlu
From the morning of June 22, entry and exit to the Soyudlyu village of Gadabay region were restricted. Local residents have been protesting here for the last two days. They oppose the construction of a new artificial lake to discharge sewage from the nearby Gadabay gold mine.
Soyudlu is located in a mountainous area 450 km west of Baku. The Gadabay field is being mined by the British company Anglo Asian Mining. The first gold mining here began in 2009.
According to the villagers, the environment has been seriously affected after many years of operation of the gold mine. The air is polluted with cyanide gas, which is harmful to public health. Villagers say the construction of a second artificial lake for pasture toxic waste will further aggravate the situation.
On June 20, police officers used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a protest rally by residents of the village of Soyudlu. According to them, about 10 residents were injured during the clash.
On June 21, residents continued to protest. Their representatives were received by the head of the executive power of Gadabay region. Then a special commission created under the Cabinet of Ministers came to the village to conduct an investigation.
But all this did not solve the problems of the villagers. On June 22, the entrance and exit to the village was closed by the police. Approximately 10 residents have been arrested, and relatives say they cannot contact them and do not know where they are being held.
In Baku, two activists, Giyas Ibrahimov and Elmir Abbasov, were arrested, who harshly criticized the authorities for these events on social networks.
Events in Soyudlu
Gold mining company denies harm
By order of the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Ali Asadov, on June 21, a commission was established to monitor and assess the situation in the village of Soyudlu. Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Mukhtar Babayev was appointed chairman of the commission.
Despite the fact that two weeks have already passed since the beginning of the commission’s work, the results of its work have not been disclosed. At the request of the Turan agency, the press service of the Ministry of Natural Resources announced the continuation of the work of the commission, which was not interrupted on non-working days on the occasion of Gurban Bayram.
“Samples are being analyzed and analyzed. The results of the study will be communicated to the public,” the head of the ministry’s press service said.
Elshad Mammadov, a representative of the gold mining company Azerbayjan International Mining Company, told reporters that the enterprise’s waste storage has no harmful effects on public health and the environment.
Events in Soyudlu
“There was a cyanide leak”
Before restricting access to Soyudlu, an Eco-front member who inspected a barrage where wastewater from the Gadabay gold mine was dumped and faced police violence because of this, said that the cyanide warehouse was very poorly managed. According to him, not only does the barrage have no concrete cover, even the most primitive waterproofing membranes cover only the dam part:
“No steps have been taken to prevent leakage in other parts. It is inevitable that there was a constant leak from this reservoir,” he said.
“The company that manages this field, and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, as a supervisory body, should be held accountable. The activities of the mining and processing company must be stopped immediately. Security measures at the warehouse should be strengthened and an action plan for the disposal of toxic waste should be prepared. All costs must be borne by this opportunistic company,” Eco-front said in the statement.