Prosecutors believe that Grigeo Klaipėda, a paper plant suspected of purposefully polluting the Curonian Lagoon, have been releasing untreated wastewater every night with the management's knowledge. IKEA has said its Lithuanian suppliers will no longer buy the company's products.
“Suspicions will be brought next week, I think there will be more than one or two [suspects]," prosecutor Gina Skersinskytė told reporters on Friday.
Her statement was broadcast by the Atvira Klaipėda (Open Klaipėda) news website.
Asked whether the suspects would include the company's executives rather than just employees who operated the valves, the prosecutor said: “If the operator realized what he was doing, he will become a suspect.”
Skersinksytė also said she believed untreated wastewater was released with the knowledge of the management and it was done every night.
“The valves were operated and it was done intentionally to release wastewater. We believe it was done every night. The goal of the pre-trial investigation is to find out [how long wastewater was being released] but we believe it was done every night,” the prosecutor said.
She could not say if wastewater was released via an emergency pipe or some other pipe. The valves that were operated are inside the company's pump-house.
Klaipėda prosecutors said on Tuesday they suspected the company had used a bypass pipe to release untreated wastewater into the Curonian Lagoon, and the damage might be estimated at dozens of millions of euros.
Gintautas Pangonis, Grigeo president and main shareholder, has said that untreated wastewater was released via an emergency pipe. Some of the wastewater that entered the Curonian Lagoon was treated mechanically, but not biologically. He could not say how much wastewater had been released into the Curonian Lagoon.
The company has pledged to compensate for the environmental damage.
Following the revelation this week, a number of retail chains have said they will not stock Grigeo products, which include carboard and paper tissues.
On Friday, the Swedish furniture store IKEA said its Lithuanian suppliers would no longer buy cardboard from Grigeo Klaipėda.
“We are treating this information very seriously,” IKEA told BNS. “All suppliers are audited, with prior notice or without, to ensure that they are sticking to our requirements. Moreover, IKEA suppliers must comply with local legislation and act responsibly while treating chemical waste.”
IKEA refused to identify its five Lithuanian suppliers.
However, one of them is SBA group. The vice president and board chairman of SBA Baldų Kompanija, Egidijus Valentinavičius, told 15min.lt the company suspended purchases from Grigeo Klaipėda for an indefinite period.
Jonas Krutinis, the head of Vilniaus Baldai, which sells 100 percent of its products to IKEA, also told 15min.lt that his company decided no longer buy cardboard from Grigeo Klaipėda and will buy it from Polish and Dutch suppliers instead.
Vakarų Medienos Grupė and Freda also supply IKEA.
BNS was not able to contact Tomas Eikinas, the head of Grigeo Klaipėda, on Friday.
Grigeo Klaipėda posted 53.523 million euros in revenue in 2017, up 7.7 percent from 2017, with paper products making the majority of its products, accounting for 44.156 million euros in sales.
The company also received 9.216 million euros in revenue from the sale of honeycomb cardboard used in furniture production.