Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister,
Dear Embassy Representatives and distinguished guests,
It is my special pleasure today to attend the inauguration of the cleanup of Porto Romano, which was financed by the Dutch Government, Albanian Government and the World Bank as part of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Clean-up Project.
It is my first time in Albania and if it was not for the archive of pictures providing a chronology of project implementation, it would have been difficult for me to imagine how this area looked before the beginning of the cleanup works. I can only imagine the plight of the people of Porto Romano who were exposed to chemical hazards; I can only imagine peoples’ desperation to live in cleaner neighborhoods.
It is also hard to imagine the water, soil and human food chain being affected by toxic substances such as dichromate, lindane and other obsolete pesticides stored for many years on this site on the backdrop of the nearby magnificent coastline.
I am glad to see that once a contaminated area – today the project site in Porto Romano is unrecognizable after five years of hard work. My appreciation goes to all agencies involved in realizing the cleanup project under international supervision. A great deal of awareness work was carried out by the local NGO for raising public awareness among the people of Porto Romano, informing them about the risks of toxic contamination; how to avoid exposure and most importantly how to protect the integrity of the confined disposal facility and thus to protect the local environment and the heath of their children.
This project is one of the first cleanup actions undertaken by the Government of Albania to address the legacy of environmental hot spots and we hope that the experience gained during this operation will be used to remediate other such sites in the country.
On behalf of the World Bank, I would like to thank the Dutch Government for their contribution and excellent cooperation with the World bank and to the Government for taking the lead in addressing public health issues not only through the construction of the confined disposal facility but also for repackaging the contaminated wastes and transporting them for incineration in Germany.
Finally, I would also like to thank the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration and Mayor of Durres municipality for their support and commitment in the implementation of the Project.