DUSHANBE, November 1, 2010, Asia-Plus  -- A statement by the Ecology Movement of Uzbekistan (EMO) about negative impact of operations of the Tajik aluminum smelter on the environment in the area and tens of millions of dollars of damage allegedly caused by the plant, operated by the Tajik Aluminum Company (TALCO), to Uzbekistan is absolutely unfounded, Dr. Shams Nazarov, an official with Tajikistan’s Committee for Environmental Protection, said.

According to him, under the mask of zeal to minimize environmental pollution in the region EMU and other similar pro-government NGOs of Uzbekistan try to impede development of Tajikistan’s infrastructure, in particular modernization of the Tajik aluminum smelter and construction of the Roghun hydroelectric power plant (HPP), which is of vital significance for development of Tajikistan’s economy.

Raising clamor over these decisions, they are trying to urge the population of Uzbekistan to oppose the construction of the Roghun HPP and operations of TALCO, he noted.

“The EMU representatives must know that in line with point 5.2 of the protocol of the second session of the Tajik-Uzbek commission for trade and economic cooperation, Tajikistan has set up a government commission to study impact of industrial enterprises on the environmental situation in the problem areas of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan,” said Nazarov, “Tajik Committee for Environmental Protection has submitted the Program of Actions on Studying the Impact of Industrial Enterprises on the Environmental Situation in the Problem Districts of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for consideration to the government,” said the expert, “By governments notes # 9-2/14-435 of November 20, 2009 and # 9-2/(16057) the program was endorsed and Tajik MFA officially notified Uzbek authorities of that.”           

He added that the Tajik and Uzbek governments signed an agreement on cooperation in improving the environmental situation within the area of impact of Tajik aluminum smelter on November 17, 1994 for the period of three years.  “The agreement was automatically extended until 2002 and a joint program for scientific researches on improvement of the environmental situation at Tajik aluminum plant for 1996-2000 was developed under this agreement,” said Nazarov, “Four joint conferences and workshops on this subject were conducted; two of them were conducted in Uzbekistan.”

According to him, analytical samplings were conducting on Uzbek territory in 1989 and 1994.  “Only in 1989, an average monthly concentration of anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (AHF) in air exceeded the maximum permissible concentration 1.2 times, while in the remaining years the AHF concentration has not exceeded the maximum permissible concentration,” Nazarov said, noting that there are documents about that, signed by heads of relevant bodies of the two countries.

He said that the analytical control service of the Committee for Environmental Protection jointly with the TALCO lab regularly conducted the environmental and social impact assessments for the Tajik aluminum plant.

Nazarov stressed that an average annual AHF concentration for the past decade stood at 0.16-0.35 milligram per one cubic meter, which was much lower than the maximum permissible concentration, determined at 0.5 mg/ m3.  “Emission measurements conducted in 2009 and 2010 also show that the AHF concentration is lower than the maximum permissible concentration,” the expert said.

Analysis of dynamics of the emission of harmful substances from TALCO into atmosphere for 1989-2009 shows that the emission volumes decreased 1.6 times -- from 37,500 tons in 1989 to 23,300 tons in 2009, the expert added.

Nazarov noted that TALCO had introduced the most efficient new technologies to reduce the volume of emissions from its plant in Tursunzoda.  “Over the past three years, the company has invested more than 80 million somoni (equivalent to some 20 million U.S. dollars) in environment-friendly technology,” he said.

Tajik aluminum smelter is Tajikistan''s largest industrial facility, producing more than 400,000 tons of primary aluminum every year.  It accounts for some 60 percent of the country''s exports.

We will recall that in statement, published by Uzbekistan Daily on October 18, EMU called for setting up a joint Uzbek-Tajik intergovernmental working group that would prepare new edition of the bilateral government-to-government agreement on improvement of ecological environment in the area of negative impact of the Tajik Aluminum Company.  The movement said it has calculated the environmental damage from TALCO to Uzbekistan''s Surkhandaryo region on the basis of research by Uzbek scientists. It claims Talco is responsible for some 228 million U.S. dollars in damage to four districts in the region.