bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Saturday 20.10.2018 | Name days: Leonīda, Leonīds
LatviaLatvia

Breathing air thick with political dust; who benefits from putting pressure on Ventspils Commercial port

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFor two weeks now society has been actively fed misleading information and basically propaganda that Ventspils Commercial Port does not perform its duties before the city’s residents. Reports from the State Environment Service that air moistening is effective and meets required levels do not seem convincing enough for Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry. This institution’s headlines are written misleading – instead of informing society, they scare them. At the same time, being a state institution, the environment ministry cannot afford not including experts’ opinions. Because of that, some paragraphs are dedicated to conclusions made by the State Environment Service – that air moistening in Ventspils fits requirements, and that no violations were recorded at Ventspils Commercial Port.

Nevertheless, because of certain ‘coincidences’, Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Kaspars Gerhards has decided to change the board of the local Environment Service Office and put one of his close associates – a former representative of the National Alliance there. The person in question is the director of Madona Regional Environment Office Normunds Broks. From now on, he will be in charge of Ventspils Regional Environment Office. As a result of rotation of officials, Inguna Pļaviņa, who was previously in charge of Ventspils Regional Environment Office, will be in charge of Madona Regional Environment Office.

At first it seemed Gerhards would not appoint such a close associate of his in such an open and blunt way. In a conversation with deputy director general of Latvia’s State Environment Service Aina Stašāne, she confirmed that Normunds Broks, who will be in charge of Ventspils Regional Environment Office, served in the past as Minister for Special Assignments for Administration of European Union Funds. It is the same Normunds Broks who, together with Gerhards, formed the seat of government when Ivars Godmanis was in power in Latvia.

There are concerns about environment ministry’s intentions in Ventspils, specifically that it is not the institution’s desire to help the city, but instead ‘scratch’ the city some more.

According to the ministry, rotation of posts is performed regularly. This begs a question: where was EPRDM all these years? Why does not action follows residents’ complaints are targeted against companies in which people close to Aivars Lembergs work? Does people’s welfare not matter when there is strong backing behind those companies?

George Orwell said, «All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others»

It should be mentioned that it was Ventspils municipality that turned to Gerhards with the coal dust problem at VCP, saying that port authority’s efforts are not enough to prevent dust clouds from plaguing the city. The city council requested keeping society informed to the maximum extent of all efforts to limit coal dust within the specific company’s territory.

Take notice: «keeping society informed to the maximum extent». Does the city council’s plan to keep society informed include reporting misleading information? It is commendable that the environment ministry has started working at least prior to Saeima elections, and has already provided certain recommendations. But it is nonetheless important to remember that improving the current situations means some problems have been found in regulations.

It is worth mentioning Ventspils City Council opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis comment on the situation in the port city. He stressed that throughout all the years he has worked in Ventspils City Council, not once he has not been able to access information regarding any activities Ventspils Freeport Authority and the city council have done to improve the situation in the city. He stressed that «Ventspils Freeport authority and Ventspils City Council should be the first to answer questions, because the current situation is the result of negligence of two institutions».

A question for the city council, then: wouldn’t it be better to extend a helping hand to Ventspils Commercial Port if deputies of the ruling coalition are so very worried about protecting residents? Where has the suspended chairman of Ventspils City Council Aivars Lembergs disappeared to this time? It seems the tactic of «being quiet like a field mouse» has worked, because EPRDM has been pulled in, allowing him to stay in the shadow and take no responsibility if something bad happens with his PR. If the situation resolves in favour of local voters, Lembergs will likely come up with a way to present it as though he was instrumental in resolving everything, since Lembergs, according to himself, «follows all events and developments very closely». It is no secret that Lembergs has been ‘chummy’ with EPRDM for a long time.

It should be said that reports from experts state that concentration of PM10 particles in the air in Ventspils does not exceed average levels recorded in Latvia. This means, air quality in the port city is on par with the rest of the country. People’s discomfort is, however, understandable. Residents say dust in the air in Ventspils is a normal occurrence, and they understand that this is something they have to deal with being this close to the port. The unusually hot weather and strong wind, however, have created a major problem for residents.

Wouldn’t it be great if Ventspils City Council came up with ideas to increase residents’ welfare with actual actions and not just meetings with experts who later publish reports containing misleading information? There are experts in the city council that have definitely seen SES’ reports on permitted air pollution levels. They are well aware that coal dust has no effect on people’s health. They what’s with the loud announcements regarding inadequate coal heap sprinkling at Ventspils Commercial Port? This is why attacks on the port demonstrate a desire to interfere with the port’s activities, not the desire to help out residents.

VCP experts say coal dust are not and cannot possibly serve as the only source of pollution. «Let’s not forget about emissions coming from different types of transports and factories. In addition, coal cargo volumes have declined considerably these past couple of years, which means concentration of coal dust cannot possibly reach levels of previous years. VCP performs regular monitoring of coal dust concentration in the air. Data regarding concentration levels is controlled by SES Ventspils Region Environment Office. So far coal dust concentration levels have not exceeded permitted levels.»

During the recent meeting with Ventspils residents, SIA Estonian, Latvian & Lithuanian Environment board member Aiga Kāla emphasized that ‘media report a lot of misleading information about dust and its influence on human health. Coal dust particles are 10 μm larger than dust particles and cannot enter the human body.’

She added that «large particles visible with the naked eye can cause some discomfort, but they do not end up in our lungs». To fix this situation, Ventspils Commercial Port considers using snow cannons to create a fog-like barrier from the side of the docks. VCP Technical Director Māris Lieģis said during the meeting that the port also has plans to set up more platforms with snow cannons to create the ‘water wall’. He mentioned visiting Klaipeda, where his Lithuanian colleagues also tried using snow cannons in summer.

With that, the intimidation tactic used against residents from EPRDM seems odd and only causes another question: why does the ministry employ tendentious and misleading reports instead of explaining the situation in a simple manner to residents?


Leave a reply

Central Election Commission approves results of 13th Saeima elections in Latvia

On Friday, 19 October, the Central Election Commission approved results of 13th Saeima elections. According to approved results, Harmony received 19.8% of votes, KPV LV – 14.25%, New Conservative Party – 13.59%, Attīstībai/Par – 12.04%, National Alliance – 11.01%, Union of Greens and Farmers – 9.91%, and New Unity – 6.69%.

Bill Gates met by Estonian Prime Minister

Estonian head of government Jüri Ratas has met with Bill Gates, the co-founder and former head of the American software giant Microsoft to look into possibilities to support Africa through research and development.

Latvia’s general budget deficit estimated around EUR 155.7 million

In 2017, general government budget deficit accounted for EUR 155.7 million or 0.6 % of the Gross Domestic Product and general government consolidated gross debt at the end of 2017 amounted to EUR 10 806.8 million or 40.0 % of the GDP.

Latvijas Radio predicts to have 35.7% of radio market in the near future

In the next five years Latvijas Radio expects to own 35.7% of the radio market. Additionally, it is also expected that the audience listening over the internet and social media will increase significantly. «Eight out of ten listeners completely trust the content reported by public media,» as reported by Latvijas Radio representative Ieva Aile.

Producer price level in Latvian industry down 5%

Compared to August, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry fell by 0.4 % in September 2018. Level of prices of products sold on the domestic market reduced by 0.7 %, but of exported products – by 0.2 %.

ABLV Bank successfully pays 69% of all guaranteed remuneration amount

The liquidated ABLV Bank has repaid clients EUR 328.66 million, which is 69% of the guaranteed remuneration amount, as confirmed by Citadele Bank’s corporate communications manager Ieva Prauliņa.

CEC to approve and announce the final 13th Saeima election results

On Friday, 19 October, the Central Election Commission will organize a meeting, during which it is planned to approve the final results of 13th Saeima elections and announce deputies elected to the parliament, as reported by CEC representative Kristīne Bērziņa.

Corruption watchdog asked to look into Ventspils City Council’s and Ventspils nafta termināls’ EUR 2.5 million deal

Latvia’s State Audit has asked Finance Ministry and Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau to investigate the deal worth EUR 2.5 million between SIA Ventspils nafta terminals and Ventspils City Council, as noted in the report from State Audit’s inspection of the 2017 report on state and municipal budgets’ completion.

EU in favour of using sanctions against cyber-attacks, chemical weapons' threats

The member states of the European Union have in this week's summit decided to implement sanctions over threats of chemical weapons and expressed readiness to implement sanctions against cyber-attacks.

Canadian cannabis shops face shortages on 2nd day of legalisation

Cannabis stores in Canada have experienced shortages on the second day since the legalisation of recreational cannabis, as the demand is much higher than the supply of the drug.

Latvian parties’ talks with the president fail to outline a prime minister candidate

Parties that met with Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis on Thursday, 18 October, failed to name prime minister candidates they would support. Nevertheless, parties did confirm the desire to form as wide a coalition as possible by continuing talks with all parties except Harmony.

Putin: People in ex-Soviet Republics had more opportunities during USSR

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has asserted that people in Russia's neighbouring countries, once under Soviet occupation, regretted the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Autumn-like weather to end October’s unusually warm period

Soon enough, the warm weather that was present throughout this week and most of October will be replaced be colder weather. Air temperature will drop considerably at the end of the week. Wind will pick up in strength at the beginning of next week, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Merkel finds Brexit agreement still doable, but time running out

German Chancellor Angela Merkel evaluated after this week's summit of the European Union, that there is not much time left for an agreement on the UK leaving the bloc, but it a deal should still be realistically attainable.

Lithuania opposition MP: «The ruling majority muddles through a «foxy» budget»

For the fifth consecutive year, Lithuania’s new budget, now for 2019, is described as «record» due to the size of surplus and the hefty allocations to education, health care, innovations and reduction of social inequality.

Majority of Latvian residents believe the government does not respect their opinion

The majority of Latvian residents are convinced their government does not respect society’s opinion on different matters, according to results of a survey by SKDS.

Minister: results of European Council talks on Brexit are not surprising

The fact that talks organized by the European Council regarding Britain’s exit and conditions have concluded with no real progress, is nothing surprising, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

After Crimea college shooting, authorities look for accomplice

After a school in Russian-annexed Crimea suffered a shooting and explosive attack, with 20 people killed, the Russian occupation authorities have stated that a search is on for a possible accomplice to the attacker.

Number of newborns continues to decline in Latvia

The number of births registered over the first nine months of 2018 is 1,267 children or 8 % smaller than that registered in the respective period of 2017.

State Audit finds it difficult to follow use of funding for Latvia’s Centenary events

According to Latvian State Audit, it is hard to follow the use of funding intended for Latvia’s Centenary events.

EU and Britain agree to disagree, maybe for several months

After the European Union's summit decided that not enough progress has been achieved in Brexit talks to hold a separate Brexit summit in November, London has expressed readiness to consider the prolonging of the divorce transition period for some months.

Anti-Money Laundering Service to be supervised by Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers

On Thursday, 18 October, members of the Saeima supported amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in the first reading.

Latvian Saeima conceptually approves new Law on the Handling of Weapons

On Thursday, 18 October, members of the Latvian Saeima conceptually supported the project for a new Law on the Handling of Weapons. The legislative draft provides new classifications of arms and munitions, as well as coordination with EU regulations on weapons handling, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Latvia’s smallest 10th grade class has only three pupils

Latvia’s smallest 10th grade class has only three pupils, says Education and Science Ministry’s Education Department director Līga Buceniece.

Clocks to be turned one hour back on 28 October

28 October marks the end of daylight savings time in Latvia and elsewhere in the world. This is when all clocks are to be turned one hour back, Latvian Economy Ministry reminds.

Who would be the best choice for the next prime minister of Latvia?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Polls Archive



Category feed: Feed: