Damage by paper factory to Curonian Lagoon may amount to 60 million euros: minister

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-09 04:48:07|Editor: ZX
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VILNIUS, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The damage caused by a Lithuanian cardboard producer to the Curonian Lagoon might amount to 60 million euros, Lithuania's Minister of Environment Kestutis Mazeika said on Wednesday.

Grigeo Klaipeda, a company operating in the Lithuanian Baltic seaport Klaipeda, admitted on Wednesday releasing untreated wastewater into the Curonian Lagoon and promised to search into what caused the incident.

"According to the existing laws, the limitation period is five years, therefore the damage can be calculated for up to five years. In case it reaches 12-13 million euros a year, based on the amount (alleged amount of the untreated wastewater), the whole damage might reach around 60 million euros," Mazeika was quoted as saying by local media.

In his words, the pollution has been stopped now by the company.

On Tuesday, the Lithuanian prosecutors announced that an investigation into the environmental pollution by Grigeo Klaipeda, had been launched.

According to the prosecutors, during the law enforcement raid it was discovered that wastewater which forms in a production facility did not enter water treatment equipment but, instead, ran through pipes straight to the Curonian Lagoon.

Prosecutors said they believed that the damage was done deliberately, seeking to avoid taxes and other pecuniary losses.

Meanwhile, Gintautas Pangonis, president and major shareholder at Lithuanian paper and wood industry group Grigeo, said in a press release published on Wednesday that the company had taken responsibility for the incident and had formed an internal investigation commission.

"We are taking all responsibility and we will not flee from it - we will do our best to find out the causes of this incident, eliminate them and prevent this from happening again," Pangonis was quoted as saying in a statement.

Back on Tuesday, Pangonis told the local broadcaster LNK that the wastewater could be released into the lagoon due to a "one-time breakdown", not intentionally. Environment Minister Mazeika later accused the head of Grigeo group of "lying" about possible reasons of the incident.

The Environmental Protection Department under the Ministry of Environment announced on Wednesday it had launched an unplanned inspection at Grigeo Klaipeda to determine the extent of damage that might have been caused when untreated wastewater spilled into the Curonian Lagoon, news agency Elta reported. (1 euro = 1.11 U.S. dollars)