Fire at “Nairit” Plant: Ecological Risks and Assessments on the Work of State Structures
The major fire broken out in the territory of Nairit Plant on August 28 was isolated two days later.

As it turned out, Ethynol varnish was burning a total of about 200 cubic meters in 4 reinforced concrete basins (each about 100 cubic meters) in the territory of Nairit 1. According to the statement of RA Ministry of Emergency Situations, hazardous emissions into the atmosphere are excluded and no hazardous substances have been found in the composition of the air.

Nevertheless, state-owned agencies were criticised on social networks and the media. The wave of criticism accuses the responsible agencies of providing inaccurate information to the population and their unpredictability in crisis situations.

The discussion entitled Fire at “Nairit” Plant: Ecological Risks and Assessments on the Work of State Structures held at Media Center on August 30 aimed at clarifying how the society is protected from man-made and natural disasters and what kind of measures should be taken to minimize such cases and to protect themselves properly in case of disaster.

Arpine Gabrielyan, Head of the Atmospheric Air Quality Laboratory, "Environmental Monitoring and Information Center" SNCO  of the Ministry of Nature Protection, says that their center has been actively measuring the amount of air pollution over the past two days.

“On the day of the fire, measurements were made, and in general there were excess levels of pollution but the excess was not of the size to endanger the population. The nitrogen dioxide, the sulfur dioxide and the total dust exceeded. However, the analysis made on the second day showed that the excessed were reduced and we had excess of only sulfur dioxide,” Gabrielyan said.

Responding to Arpine Gabrielian, Hrachik Mirzoyan, chemist, former employee of Nairit Plant, mentiones that even with the naked eye it was visible that large quantities of soot were emitted into the atmosphere.

“Incomplete combustion took place, the soot is the result of it, and therefore it should produce carbon dioxide, but these two components are missing in the analyzes,” Mirzoyan said.   

Referring to the causes of the fire, the specialist expressed conviction that the technological process of preserving and storing of the substance is most likely not to be kept safe.

“Ethynol varnish is a polymer material, the molecular mass of the substance is constantly increasing, which is accompanied by heat dissociation. To prevent this polymering, it is mixed with materials hindering polymer. And this material loses its necessary density over time, as a result of which the ethynol polymer continues, heat is switched off, which can cause spontaneous fire and explosion,” Mirzoyan said.

Lena Nazaryan, referring to the issue, noted that the manner of the RA Ministry of Health Care was strange for her after the incident.

“Their statement came five hours after the incident. Meanwhile, to prevent the panic, it was necessary to disseminate a statement and inform what people would do in that situation. People had a lack of information during that time,” Nazaryan said.

The MP also drew attention to the fact that before this fire, major fires in the plant have occurred twice in recent years.

“In 2006, there were fires in 2-11 workshops, in November and December, and at that time the ethynol warehouses were also burning. In 2009, two large explosions occurred, causing four people dead. These cases should make people cautious that the safety rules are not maintained and to approach the issue more seriously,” Lena Nazaryan said.

Samvel Martirosyan touched upon the issue of providing information to the population in crisis situations, noting that there are incorrect approaches in the issue of the provision of narrow professional information, and "generalizing" the terms of chemistry is not the best way to communicate with the public. 

“It was mentioned here that the nitrogen dioxide content in the air is high. How many people know what nitrogen dioxide is? Nitrogen dioxide is quite mild but it is a serious toxic gas. It seems to me that we should speak in human language a little bit. If you say the sulfur dioxide content is high, you say nothing. You have to say what is dangerous and what to do,” Martirosyan said.

To watch the video, follow the link.  

Derenik Malkhasyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to [email protected]

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