The Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Assenovgrad has laid criminal charges against two company officials, alleging that they allowed cyanide pollution of the Yugovska and Chepelarska rivers.
The two accused, the company’s chief executive and the tailings pond head officer, were placed in 72-hour custody as of February 23, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office said.
The cyanide pollution of the rivers rendered them dangerous to humans, animals and plants, as well as unfit for use for cultural, domestic, health, agricultural and other economic purposes, a crime under the Criminal Code, the statement said.
If found guilty, the accused could face imprisonment from one to five years and a fine from 5000 to 30 000 leva.
Bulgarian media said that the pollution was discovered on February 21 during an inspection by the East Aegean Regional Basin Directorate and the Smolyan regional inspectorate of environment and water.
A statement by Bulgaria’s Environment Ministry said that on-site inspections were carried out on February 22 by Environment Minister Emil Dimitrov, Plovdiv District Governor Danny Kanazireva and officials.
The pollution in the river was found to come from a pipe illegally connected to the first tailings pond. Water samples were taken from the effluent flowing from the pipe.
Kanazireva said that there was no danger to drinking water. This is shown by the results of the last samples from the laboratory of Water Supply and Sewerage-Plovdiv.
Irrigation systems have stopped the water supply to the irrigation and feeding channels of the fish farms.
Basin directorate head Tsvetelina Kaneva said that the cyanide pollution in the rivers was 20 times the safety limit.
The head of the Smolyan regional inspectorate of environment and water Ekaterina Gadgeva said that the conditions for the overflow of contaminated water into the river had been deliberately created.
(Photos: Ministry of Environment and Water)