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"A new environmental crisis is at risk", BIRN: Elbasan and Fier incinerators do not work
The incinerators of Elbasan and Fier have cost the Albanian taxpayers about 58 million euros, but none of them are in operation, while the mountains of waste created around them risk turning into new environmental hotspots.
The incinerator of Elbasan has been turned off for a long time and the waste coming from the six municipalities of the district has created a giant mountain of garbage in the landfill. The incinerator of Fieri offers similar views, where a pile of waste has also been created within the enclosure. The waste is deposited in the landfill and is not subjected to other processes of selection, recycling or incineration.
The incinerator of Elbasan and that of Fier have cost the Albanian taxpayers about 58 million euros, but the first one is under repair and the second one has not yet been put into operation. Beyond the costs and allegations of abuse of public funds, experts are concerned that the mountains of garbage are causing a new environmental crisis in these two projects.
Olsi Nika, expert and head of the environmental organization EcoAlbania, says the waste deposited near the incinerators risks polluting the surrounding environment.
"Those wastes can easily come into contact with biotic and abiotic factors, which means rain, wind, landslides due to rains and earthquakes. So they are in very clear and open contact. As they are in contact with birds, with small mammals, which can then influence the overflow of this pollution, which, for the sake of truth, is turning into an environmental hotspot, a hot spot where there a fairly concentrated accumulation of pollution,” he said.
The incinerator of Elbasan and that of Fier were seized by the Special Prosecutor's Office, SPAK, after the investigations launched for the criminal offenses of corruption, abuse of office and money laundering against the former Minister of the Environment, Lefter Koka, the former Socialist MP, Alqi Blako and other government officials.
The main administrators of the concession companies, Stela Gugallja, Mirel Mërtiri and Klodian Zoto, are also accused of corruption, but have so far escaped arrest warrants.
After being managed for several months by the Seized and Confiscated Assets Administration Agency, the Elbasan incinerator passed in March 2022 to the public capital company, ECO-ELB, created by all the municipalities of the district.
Në prill 2022, shoqëria ECO- ELB e përshkruante si emergjente situatën e krijuar me mbetjet në inceneratorin e Elbasanit, përmes një kërkese për pajisje me licensë të përshpejtuar për prodhimin e energjisë, drejtuar Entit Rregullator të Energjisë.
“Gjatë periudhës dhjetor 2021- mars 2022, situata e mbetjeve ishte dhe vijon të mbetet emergjente dhe nga data 15.12.2021, drejtori teknik i impiantit për shkak të mungesës së lëndëve të para të nevojshme për punën e impiantit, ka urdhëruar fikjen e komanduar të tij,” thuhet në kërkesën e shoqërisë Eco-Elb.
“Që nga kjo datë, mbetjet vetëm trajtohen në landfilld (nuk digjen) dhe si i tillë nuk realizohet prodhimi i energjisë elektrike,” shtohet në dokument.
Nëntë muaj pas licensimit nga ERE, impianti i Elbasanit është ende jashtë funksionit dhe mali i plehrave sa vjen e lartësohet, edhe pse shoqëria ECO- ELB shpenzoi para të tjera shtesë për ta vendosur atë në punë.
Bashkia e Elbasanit dhe administratori i shoqërisë ECO-ELB, Leli Kaja refuzuan t’u përgjigjen pyetjeve mbi arsyet se pse inceneratori nuk djeg mbetje dhe mbi rreziqet mjedisore që shkakton groposja e mbetjeve në landfill.
Ndërsa Farudin Arapi, administratori i Agjencisë së Pasurive të Sekuestruara i tha BIRN përmes një bisede telefonike se impianti ka funksionuar për disa muaj dhe më pas pësoi defekt.
"Initially, he worked normally from the period of March to the period of August. As a rule, a partial overhaul is done, and such a thing started to be carried out in September-October, but because there were some breakdowns in the pumps, which was a serious process that none of the companies undertook, we were forced to stop it, ” said Arapi, who added that the plant would be put into operation soon.
The situation is similar in the Fieri incinerator, which has not yet started burning waste. According to administrator Arapi, additional money from the state budget is needed to purchase additional equipment and put it into operation.
"It is expected that the line ministries will approve the fund of 2.8 million Euros to put the Fier incinerator into operation," Arapi concluded./ BIRN