2020.01.07 17:30

Klaipėda plant accused of polluting Lithuania's Curonian Lagoon

A company in Klaipėda is suspected of having been releasing untreated wastewater into the Curonian Lagoon, a bay in the Baltic Sea.

Lithuanian prosecutors launched an investigation into environmental pollution by Grigeo Klaipėda, a company operating in the city's seaport.

“Based on the initial investigation, Grigeo Klaipėda might be the source of the pollution. No suspicions have been brought as part of this pre-trial investigation yet,” the Environmental Protection Department said on Tuesday.

Its own representatives and the police inspected the area in the early hours of Tuesday and found untreated wastewater being released into the Curonian Lagoon from the company's production facility.

“Damage to the environment might be valued at several million euros,” the department said.

Environment Minister Kęstutis Mažeika says the company must immediately stop polluting and compensate the environmental damage.

“It’s a deplorable example of irresponsible business practices when instead of investing into environmental protection, [a company] cynically polluted nature,” the minister said in a comment to BNS.

The Environmental Protection Department has ordered the company to immediately stop the pollution. It also plans to conduct an unplanned inspection at the company.

Wastewater pollution hundreds of times above limits

Gina Skersinskytė, a Klaipėda prosecutor who heads the investigation, told BNS that investigators searched the company's offices and seized documents about a bypass pipe that Grigeo Klaipėda claimed to have installed.

“A number of documents have been taken, relating to the wastewater treatment system, including laboratory tests, schemes, correspondence about the quality of wastewater treatment. We want to know how long it's been going on,” the prosecutor said.

Damage to nature could be worth “millions”, she added, and pollution levels in the wastewater exceeded limits “hundreds of times”.

“The company produces cardboard, paper, cellulose, so that's the nature of this production wastewater,” Skersinskytė said.

No comment from the company

Tomas Eikinas, the managing director at Grigeo Klaipėda, has refused to comment.

“I will refrain from any comment, because I have been working for the second month only,” he said, adding that he did not know about the alleged violations.

“I still need to look into this situation myself,” Eikinas said.

Grigeo stopped trading its shares on Tuesday, following reports about the alleged pollution.