Sustainability 101

Making A Difference: A Toxic Mystery At A School In Armenia

Recently, Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth came across a school in Armenia, where various mounds of highly toxic waste had mysteriously appeared (see photo below). The piles appeared to have been dumped there surreptitiously by a company looking to get rid of their mining waste.

Children  in the school yard were playing around the exposed piles of poison, unaware of the dangers. Obviously, this called for immediate action, and the Blacksmith team began planning a mode of action. Then something unexpected happened.

Red arrows mark where the highly toxic piles of mining waste had been dumped on the school grounds.
Red arrows mark where the highly toxic piles of mining waste had been dumped on the school grounds.

To their surprise, shortly after, the toxic materials vanished from the school, almost just as suddenly as they had appeared. Someone had come and moved the toxic waste away in the middle of the night!

Dumping toxic waste at a school should not be tolerated anywhere in the world. By spotlighting the pollution, the team raised awareness of the threat, which in this case, led to the mysterious disappearance of the toxic waste. But we can only guess where it has been re-dumped! Did it end up in another school or neighborhood? For now, there is no way to know.

The team found the school following two years of field research conducted through a partnership between Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth and the American University of Armenia.  In addition to the school, the team has identified 29 pollution sites as threats to the health of Armenians. This includes Akhtala, a historic town with a toxic 10th-century monastery, seen in the photo below.

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Great Forest is a proud supporter of the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth – a four-star rated charity that works to clean up some of the world’s worst polluted communities in poor countries, where children are poisoned every day.  Every month we highlight one story about Making A Difference.

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