Albanian Oil Industry Threatens Lives and Health, Study Reports – Civil Society Demands Government Action
PATOS, ALBANIA. In spite of government claims, oil extraction industry poses serious environmental risks on neighbouring communities in Albania. A new assessment of environmental pollution of the country’s oil extraction and processing hinterland around Patos, Marinez and Roskovec reveals high levels of toxic and harmful elements in the air, water and soil.They significantly affect local people’s health. These threats and the ways to resolve them were the subject or a heated discussion at the Patos Municipality today, involving local authorities from the area, civic groups and people, University of Agriculture scientists.
Discovered in 1928, the Albanian oil field of Patos Marinza is the biggest on-shore oil field in Europe. With 11,854 barrels (1,884.6 m3) of extraction per day it is Albania’s largest oil resource, located some 10 km (6 mi) east of the city of Fier in south central Albania, near the town of Roskovec.
The detailed assessment by pollution and policy experts and certified laboratories reveals high content of heavy metals in the soil in the area. The presence of Cadmium, Cu, Lead and Nickel, among others, exceeding severely national and EU standards, the study’s authors’ claim.The content in such doses of these metals causes some types of cancerous diseases in the residents around and beyond as well as the reduction of soil productivity, the experts assert.
The study, supported by the Tirana-based think tank ECO Partners for Sustainable Development (EcoP) in the framework of the Green Al program, also reveals alarming air pollution from nitrogen and sulphur oxides, sulfuric acid fumes, suspended particulate matter, and other toxic gases. Their established doses also exceeded Albania’s national standards, as well as the EU ones.
The high presence of heavy metals and poisonous gases endangers the health and lives of Patos, Marinez and Roscovec residents, the experts warn. They also observe a lack of data and monitoring of people’s health in this territory.
All recommendations coming from the civil society are reminding the Albanian Government of the environmental legal framework which exists but is not enforced. At the same time Albania’s national government appears satisfied with the self-monitoring reports from industry, which assure that environmental parameters are within norms. Civil society groups such as EPOKA from the nearby city of Fier, are putting pressure on the local and central government to respond to the evidence of pollution harming the local population.
EcoP held a Constructive Debate round-table event today in Patos over the findings of the environmental assessment report. Both mayors of the Roscovec and Patos municipalities took part. The civil society recommendations for improvements of the situation will be forwarded to the relevant ministries and to the Parliament, demanding effective law enforcement, said Entela Pinguli, Executive Director of EcoP.
The Environmental Assessment of the Patos-Marinez Area (Roskovec) is part of the implementation of the project “Strengthening the voice of civil society and the community for a healthier environment in Patos and Marinez” within the Green-AL project with the financial support of the Government Agency Swedish Development Cooperation (SIDA).
Еarlier efforts by EcoP, supported by Bulgaria’s BlueLink Civic Action Network and legal hub ResPublica (Albania) led up to the environment assessment study and today’s action. They launched a Rural Watch network during 2018 – 2020 for the purpose of improving civil society’s role in supporting transparency and accountability of public authorities and extractive and energy industry in the rural areas.
- Plamen Peev, PhD, senior policy expert at BlueLink.net contributed to this article