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Work starts for cleaning-up Porto Romano

May 6, 2010

Tirana, May 6, 2010 - In Porto Romano today started the work for the remediation of the polluted area of the former lindane factory. In the launching ceremony participated the Minister of Environment, Forests and Water Administration, Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako, the World Bank Country Manager Camille Nuamah, Ms Noeke Ruiter from the Dutch Embassy, local community, NGOs, media, project staff, contractors, etc.

The clean up of Porto Romano is a component of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Clean-up Project that started in November 2005. The Porto Romano component aims to remediate and rehabilitate the contaminated site of the former factory by demolition and excavation of the polluted materials and safe disposal in a confined disposal facility. Earlier, in May 2006 the Government of the Netherlands provided 1 million Euro parallel funding for the repackaging, transport and safe disposal of the chemical waste stored in Bishti i Palles storage facility. The repackaged waste was incinerated in a specialized facility in Germany.

The works are expected to finish early 2011 and the expected benefits will be: (i) to avoid direct contact with the contaminated soil and waste and thereby reducing the public health risk; (ii) reduction of long term environment and health risks related to contaminated groundwater; and (iii) reduction of risks associated with surface water runoff.

Background information

In 2003, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) commissioned an environmental assessment which identified five (5) priority environmental hot spots for clean-up in Albania.  The former chemical plant in Porto Romano, Durres was ranked the first because of the grave risks the sites posed to human health, groundwater, and marine habitats. The study recommended urgent action and called upon the international community to immediately provide emergency assistance to these priority areas.

In 2004, the Government requested World Bank support for the remediation of the Porto Romano site.  Meanwhile, the Netherlands Government expressed its interest in supporting the clean-up.  A Japanese PHRD grant of US$250,000 financed the preparation of the feasibility study for the remediation.  Then later in 2004, the Bank agreed to combine the two separate projects for integrated coastal zone management and the clean-up of Porto Romano into one operation − the Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Clean-Up Project.  The Netherlands Government generously committed US$5 million for this clean-up and later in 2006 a parallel €1 million for repackaging and safe disposal of the chemical waste stored in Bishti i Pallës to a specialized facility in Germany.

In the meantime, several families who were living on the site have been resettled by the Ministry of Environment and Municipality of Durres, and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and remediation designs have been completed.