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An environmental appraisal of the Tajik Aluminum smelter
|Author: Professor Koshlakov G.V
7 November 2010 – Issue : 910
Today Tajik Aluminum smelter undoubtedly is the cleanest smelter in the CIS territory, because it was constructed and designed not to harm the environment. More than 30% of financings which were spent to construct the smelter used to be directed to the creation of gas purification system. Moreover, baked anodes system was introduced which significantly reduced the pollution extent and in addition the constructed gigantic gas purification system collected more than 98% of all hazardous substances, including fluorinated. A special attention was attributed to the environmental issues from the very beginning.
The main pollution element is fluorine, which now is being collected virtually in entire and is directed to the production.
There is no single real fact of threat from aluminum smelter
Who is mostly exposed to the influence of hazardous components? Answer is – people who work at the production. I do not admit other response. They tell tales that people standing next to the electrolysis cells are not exposed to any influence, and the ones who live 50 kilometers away for some reason are being affected by the fluorine. Any negative influence minimizes as distance from the smelter increases. Contamination does not increase. For the whole 35 years of smelter existence there has been no single fact of fluorosis decease, although the professional pathology and medical research institutes had permanent examinations and researches on this issue. A question arises – why people working at the smelter do not get sick and the ones who live far from the smelter start to feel on themselves its influence?
The international commission which operated in 1980’s had expressed many different opinions. At the same time maps of the areas exposed to the external factor influences had been prepared. Such facts as dried off pomegranate trees and vineyards were recorded. When these maps were matched with topographical ones it was clearly seen that the greatest damage to agriculture was caused along the highways, i.e. the negative influence of automobile exhausts was distinctly traced.
A question arises – does the smelter really work the way that the flow of polluted gases go precisely along the highways? This is not correct. A that time the international commission drew a conclusion that the main influence on the pomegranate trees and vineyards is not caused by the fluorine containing gases but by the automobile exhausts which are highly consisting of benzene. If someone wants to check, you can go to the direction of Termez, to the west, or to the south-west, and you can see the vineyards located close to the smelter. In 1980’s when it was the most intensive moment of relations between Uzbek and Tajik populations, the Uzbek people wrote to all the authorities, including the Council of Ministers of USSR. That was when we were gathered at deputy chairman of Council of Ministers of USSR Mr. Vladimir Gusev. All the interested parties were present during this meeting, including: ecologists, scientists, smelter workers, constructors, representatives of both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. We brought all documents of the commission which operated with our initiative.
Conclusions of this commission were quite definite. It was revealed that damage can be caused only to animals through feed. That is where the fluorine gets into the silage and haylage and the animals ate the contaminated feed. This is when the animals had the teeth diseases. This is what really happened, but it was in areas close to the smelter, nothing was revealed farther from it. At that time Uzbek party brought to Moscow information regarding children getting sick from breast milk, i.e. supposedly the mothers breathed air polluted with fluorine, and this transmitted to their children who started to have fluorosis. But this was an obvious provocation. It cannot be that people who work at the electrolysis production of the smelter living close to the smelter, and who have 7-8 children are healthy, and the ones who live 50 kilometers far from it have diseases?
Prove that the smelter is guilty
All issues have to be analyzed and approached soberly and main thing is there should be objective indicators, what indeed is happening. Since 1980’s smelter is regularly conducting monitoring and the soil, plants, and underground waters in the 10km radius are always being studied. Everywhere if there is a high concentration, there is nothing over permissible. Everywhere we keep within the permissible norm limits established around the world. If today in general we discussed some anomalous occurrences, we need facts which would precisely filter out smelters influence from other external impacts. Just to say that vineyard is drying off is to say nothing.
There are million other factors. For example a coal briquette producing factory operates in Shargun, automobiles pass on the road, and boiler house emits smoke, anything one likes. It is necessary to clearly illustrate that exactly smelter is the one which is damaging. There are no materials which would definitely tell that as a result of smelter actions specific number of vineyards perished and some children got diseases connected to fluorine consumption.
Professor Koshlakov G.V. is the head of Economics and Management Department of Russian Tajik Slavic University, Candidate of Geological and Mineralogical sciences, Corresponding member of International Engineering Academy.