Nubarashen is a suburb of Yerevan and home to the country’s largest landfill. I have written extensively on the landfill in our information portal but thought I would also provide some less formal thoughts on the subject. Nubarashen is fast becoming an environmental nightmare. I have yet to visit the landfill but there are enough studies, reports and articles about the site to inform anyone who is interested.
Nubarashen is located about 12 kilometers outside of Yerevan and is home to the overwhelming majority of the city’s trash. This trash includes the typical solid waste such as plastic bottles, bags, glass, paper and so on. It has been estimated that 4-5 tons of trash are deposited there every day. It also includes chemicals, solvents, offal, medical wastes, construction wastes, pesticides and much more. It does not take much analysis to figure out that the mixture of all these elements, with water, produces an incredibly toxic soup. Most landfills in the United States, for example, require a separate facility for chemicals and pesticides, another one for solid waste, another one for medical wastes and so on. Nubarashen just piles these various types of waste together.
Back to the toxic soup. Nubarashen does not have a protective barrier or bladder to keep leachates from seeping into the soil and eventually into the water table. Modern urban landfills have some type of barrier(s) to protect against this occurrence. Again, Nubarashen has none. What is more frustrating is that seemingly, government officials are aware of the situation, aware of the dangers and still choose not to act on it. Perhaps if they lived in Nubarashen municipality the situation would be rectified. There are still rumors floating around Yerevan that a Japanese company had been contracted to clean and retrofit the landfill. It turned out that the Japanese company was only interested in harvesting the methane from the landfill which, to the best of our knowledge, they have ceased doing. To date, no cleanup or retrofit has been attempted. And, only very recently has there been interest in studying the issue of pesticides that are dumped there.
In addition to the leaking toxins, there are many additional issues. The methane build-up in the non-tapped areas poses a threat of spontaneous combustion. The landfill continually smolders sending toxic fumes into the air. The trash is not “compacted”, rather it is simply dumped, often down ravines where it is left untended. The landfill heavy equipment is often in disrepair and/or broken down. It staggers the imagination that a landfill such as this could exist in a country such as Armenia. The fault is quite simply a lack of governance. Enough experts have reported and testified concerning the appalling conditions found there. Even as a newcomer to Armenia I am aware of Nubarashen. As such, I cannot be convinced that government officials are unaware of the dangers of inaction. Here is where the energy and outrage of Diasporans and environmental activists worldwide would be most effective. Drop the government a line at:
Direct your letter to First Deputy Minister Simon Papyan. Some of us are hearing that this may be a man genuinely interested in helping protect Armenia’s natural resources and protecting the public health. Urge immediate action in the cleanup of Nubarashen.