Steelmaker Told to Clean Up Albania Toxic Dump
NEWS 14 APR 15
Albania’s Environmental Inspectorate has suspended the work of Turkish steelmaker Kurum, accusing the company of illegally dumping thousands of tons of waste on the banks of River Shkumbin.
Besar Likmeta BIRN Tirana
The Environmental Inspectorate, ISHM on Friday ordered Kurum’s plant near the city of Elbasan in central Albania to stop work after it found in an investigation that the company generates 48,000 tons of metal slag waste every year, including zinc oxide and lead dust.
The company has no waste management plan and has been dumping its waste on the banks of River Shkumbini near the village of Bradashesh for years.
The zinc oxide and lead dusts that it generates are hazardous and environmental groups have described its dump site as one of Albania's biggest overlooked ecological problems.
“Metal wastes, particularly from heavy metals like zinc and lead, are extremely dangerous for human health, because they are deposited directly in the bloodstream and are associated with a number of diseases, particularly in children and pregnant women,” said Xhemal Mato, head of Ekolevizja, a Tirana-based environmental group.
Based on its environmental permit, Kurum was supposed to send its hazardous waste out of the country for safe disposal. But during the inspection process, ISHM was not supplied with any contract to prove that the company had done so.
An investigation by BIRN published in December raised the alarm that hazardous waste generated by Kurum was being dumped illegally on the banks of River Shkumbin, where it has created a mountain of slag and garbage 200 metres wide and about 20 high.
ISHM ordered Kurum to send it a proper waste management plan by May 20, detailing the steps that the company will take to deal with the waste it generates.
The agency also asked the company to come up with a plan to clean up and rehabilitate the dump site on River Shkumbin if it wants to restart its operations.