1- Death from Patos-Marinze oil
In the morning of April 1, in the area of Patos-Marinze, natural gas, water and clay exploded. Everything happened 10 km from the city of Fier.
From the explosion of two wells, that flooded the inhabited areas, the danger of humanitarian and environmental catastrophe emerged.
Two more explosions followed the spread of gas in the air. According to the prefecture these explosions started when Bankers Petroleum was conducting drilling operations. Immediately after, inhabitants were evacuated from their houses that now are considered uninhabitable. Minister Lefter Koka visited the area only after 8 days. To follow the situation closely he was accompanied by Chief Inspector of the State Inspectorate of Environment, Ergys Agasi[i].
‘’You have to understand my friends that eight years here the work was not controlled. I was notified that MPs from the Democratic Party will come here today to cry (April 9) for the damages, which in fact were created by them’’, said Minister Koka[ii]. ‘’Today we will not hide by blaming others. We will restore the dignity of inhabitants from this area and the future of their children’’.
It is pitiful that the Minister politicized a tragic event like this. But since it was him who decided to politicize it and to identify culprits, let us mention two facts that clearly show the current government had two years of opportunities to restore the dignity of inhabitants in this area and the future of their children:
- On September 15, 2014[iii], in Verri village in Fier there was a gas and oil explosion above the surface, but this incident had limited media coverage.
- On November 11, 2014 the Public Health Institute published a report[iv] where it estimated that during 2012-2014 there was an increase in the cases of bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer in the villages of Marinze and Zharre.
Even though these reports were available where was the Minister? Where was he during the explosions in September 2014? Where was the Minister when in November 2014 ISHP published that in the last three years there was an increase in the number of illnesses in this area? After these signals what measures were undertaken by the Ministry of Environment to restore the dignity of these people?
The time when the political enemy is mentioned as a justification for the incompetence to manage situations like this, should end once and for all. State authorities are those who should be responsible in undertaking urgent measures to guarantee the lives and health of these inhabitants. Fundamental human rights should not be ignored for economic or political interests.
2- After Bankers Petroleum there was Kurum
Another news that made headlines this month was ‘’the suspension of the activity of Kurum International Sh.a in the region of Elbasan’’. The suspension was decided on April 10 from the State Inspectorate of Environment and Forests, after finding infringements and lack of documentation. The inspectorate left a deadline until May 20 for the company to solve the ‘’mistakes’’ noted.
In December 2014[v] it was published that dross from Kurum was deposited illegally in the river banks of Shkumbin, a hill was created from the activities, at least 200 meters wide and 20 meters high. Five months after, no measure from the Ministry to investigate. A visit from ISHMP would suffice to notice this not so small hill, but this was not done until the Banker Petroleum affair. A good strategy to attract attention from the extraordinary situation in Fier was the suspension of the activity of Kurum. A suspension that came after considerable lobby from the media, activists and inhabitants of the area.
However, Kurum did not worry much about the suspension, because four days after the decision they restarted as normal. The media published videos[vi] that showed the order of the Ministry of Environment being completely ignored by the Turkish company.
In the following days there was no reaction from the Ministry or ISHMP, which leaves space to cast doubts that the suspension of Kurum’s activity was a façade or e media campaign.
[i] Artikull: Ministri Koka ndjek nga afër situatën në Patos Marinzë
[ii] Artikull: Ministri Koka ndjek nga afër situatën në Patos Marinzë
[iii] Artikull: Fier, shpërthim gazi në puset e naftës, evakuohen banorët e një fshati
[iv] Raport, Institutit të Shëndetit Publik.
[v] Artikull: Mali i plehrave i nxjerr bojën qeverisë Rama