Since the weather got warmer, the bad smell from the Chisinau Wastewater Treatment Plant has shrouded the Botanica sector and some of the Ciocana and Centru sectors of the capital, and some claim they felt it on Calea Iesilor street as well. And this time, the local authorities say they will investigate where the smell comes from and suggest that the Chisinau people should wait until the WTP will be renovated, which will cost around 30 million dollars, money earmarked by the EBRD for credit. As for the geotubes, which swallowed around 100 million lei from the City Hall budget, "there will be history". Recall that Dorin Chirtoaca promised that after the installation of the geotubes at the WTP, the inhabitants of the capital will no longer be disturbed by the unpleasant smell. In fact, the geotubes story was an unsuccessful experiment on public money.
In fact, the mayor praised this "victory over the stink", whenever he had the opportunity. In the run-up to the local elections in 2015, one of the achievements claimed by Dorin Chirtoaca, who was running for a third term as general mayor of the capital, was the so-called victory over the nasty smell in Chisinau. "I solved the bad smell problem in Chisinau, I run for another mandate," he solemnly announced during a program on PRO TV Chisinau. "I defeated the stench, I will defeat the mud in Chisinau as well," Dorin Chirtoaca said in March of 2017.
In fact, the problem of pungent odor coming from the Chisinau wastewater treatment plant has not been solved.
The Odor Removal Project at the Chisinau Water Treatment Plant was signed in October of 2008 between "Apă-Canal Chişinău" LCC and the Dutch company Tencate, and in May of 2009 the Chisinau Municipal Council allocated 4 million lei for purchasing the necessary equipment. The project consisted of installing geotubes on the sludge platforms, which will separate the water sludge, and the sludge that will accumulate in them will dry out.
It is assumed that the unpleasant smell that eliminates dewatered residue from the treatment plant will disappear. This equipment was supposed to replace the old systems of over 30 years from the Chisinau Wastewater Treatment Plant.
In fact, a year and a half ago, on May 30, 2007, another project was launched - "Reconstruction of Chisinau Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant", with the participation of potential investors and state decision-makers. In March of 2007, the Chisinau Municipal Council empowered SAA-Chisinau LCC to organize an international tender. This tender was to be held in August, and the project implementation costs were covered by CMC. The cost of the project was estimated at 148 million euros. This was to take place in 2 stages.
At the beginning of 2008, the French company Veolia Eau announced its readiness to build a water treatment plant in Chisinau. Jean-Patrice Poirier, Director for Southeast Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, held a meeting with Marian Lupu, who then held the office of President of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. However, at that time Dorin Chirtoaca came up with the geotubes solution and signed the contract with the Dutch company TenCate.
The strong argument put forward by the mayor was the lack of financial means.
The bad smell is not going away
The great expectations that the inhabitants of the capital, following the promises of the municipality are let down one after another. Although the smell has diminished, it does not disappear. In particular, it intensifies in the evening, starting at 6 o'clock PM and lasts until the morning. The inhabitants of Bubuieci, Botanica and Ciocana sectors continue to complain to the City Hall that they can no longer live because of the bad smell. At the same time, more and more public figures, who until recently preferred to stay silent, giving Dorin Chirtoaca a chance, are starting to criticize the project with geotubes. Here is what the former Prime Minister Ion Sturza writes in February of 2017, on his Facebook page: "I went to Chisinau a few days ago. Nothing surprising. While exiting the plane, the "fragrance" became a symbol of the capital. A kind of "Welcome back home" from Dorin Chirtoaca ..."
Iuliana Cantaragiu, an employee of the National Environment Center, declared at the end of 2016 for Ziarul de Garda: "This sediment sludge comes from the fecal masses that are mostly contained in the waste water. In 2009, a technology was introduced for dehydration by geotubes of the fecal masses. I don’t know exactly what’s going on with this sludge, no one at the Wastewater Treatment Plant has ever been able to answer me very precisely. For this reason, one of the assumptions is that this sludge, or a part of it, which can not be dehydrated and they don’t know what to do with it, to purify it, the discharge it into the Bâc River directly, during nighttime. I visited the station at 11 o'clock, the smell was extremely pungent, but the pungent odor comes from sludge, not from anything else. Depending on the smell, in fact, whether it exists or not, is a method of qualifying the purification station's functionality."
The Ex-Environment Minister Violeta Ivanov said in 2011 that Chisinau could expect an ecological catastrophe because the dry mud of half of the geotubes was buried in the soil near the Bubueci village. The ecologists also announce that the level of groundwater contamination and fountains in the suburbs, has dramatically increased lately.
The municipality tries to convince us that it doesn’t stink
The municipal authorities, especially the mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, are still trying to convince the inhabitants that it doesn’t stink in Chisinau. "Today we have all been convinced, once again, that the Purification Station does not produce a bad smell for the city. We stay here, the air is clean," said Chirtoaca in September of 2016, during the visit to the WTP.
Last fall, following a series of calls from the residents of Botanica sector and Bubuieci village, who could not bear the unpleasant smell, a commission of the Ministry of Environment, headed by the Liberal Valeriu Munteanu, found out that it was an economic agent, an alcohol producer, who shed the waste at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. "There were no residual waters, but alcoholic production waste, which reached the Wastewater Treatment Plant and created very big problems, including in the system," says Valeriu Munteanu. "It was confirmed that the smell did not come from the sewage sludge but from this toxic substance as a result of an illegal contract signed by the previous management ...", Dorin Chirtoaca also said.
Following an investigation by the General Prosecutor's Office, it was found that the Zernoff company had lost 10 million lei to the company Apa-Canal Chisinau and lost profits of 27 million lei.
The Zernoff Company came up with a reaction, saying that they were disposing of waste into the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Chisinau, according to the contract. In the last years, under this contract, the company paid 9.5 million lei to Apă-Canal Chişinău, sending the grain filtrate according to the established schedule, until the September incident.
The geotubes - an unsuccessful experiment
A former employee of the Chisinau Apa Canal, who requested anonymity, says that the project with the geotubes from the Chisinau Wastewater Treatment Plant was in fact an experiment that failed: "the geotubes are not good for the treatment plants. Their purpose is dehydration of sludge from lakes. It was an experiment." The same source told us that huge money was spent on chemical reagents for sludge dewatering at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. "It's damn hard to dehydrate sludge at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Therefore, chemical substances are used. However, none of the desired results were achieved. I can not imagine how this sludge can be used as a fertilizer," said the former Apa Canal employee.
That source also told us that the municipal authorities were not sure from the start regarding the effectiveness of geotubes, and some Apa Canal engineers were against it, but did not make public statements, being afraid of losing their jobs.
In fact, TenCate's geotubes have been used for the first time in Chisinau to neutralize the smell at a city purification plant.
It is rumored that the Dutch company would have also had their interests in this experiment, in order to gain new outlets.
How much did the experiment at the Wastewater Treatment Plant cost us?
The municipal authorities have not provided taxpayers in Chisinau with information on how much has been spent on the Geotube project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. According to the Report on the activity of SE Apa Canal Chisinau for 2009, a little over 3.5 million lei would have been spent on purchasing the geotubes.
Dorin Chirtoaca initially said that purchasing geotubes will cost the municipality around 10 million lei a year.
The municipality makes new promises
In 2016, the leadership of the Chisinau City Hall comes with new promises for the inhabitants of the capital, that in the near future they will escape the stench from the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Veronica Herţa, the former head of the Finance Department of the Chisinau City Hall, who in September 2016 replaced Constantin Becciev in the position of director of the Apa-Canal Chişinău LCC, says that the problems of the Chisinau wastewater treatment plant are to be resolved soon and the "geotubes will remain history".
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank pledged the capital water supplier a credit of 63 million euros, and half of the sum was earmarked for the modernization of the WTP. However, the credit may no longer be available.
The "Apa-Canal Chisinau" LCC launched on November 10, 2016 the procedure of submitting the offers for the international tender on "Rehabilitation of the Waste Water Treatment Plant and the new sludge treatment line". Under the terms of the auction, the winning company must execute the contract work for 900 calendar days.
23 offers from 15 companies from different countries: Romania, Turkey, Austria, Ukraine, France, Bulgaria, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, Israel, Poland, Czech Republic and China, were submitted for the tender. The validity of the tenders was extended until May 5, 2017, as well as the deadline for signing the contract with the winner. Sources from the Chisinau City Hall claim that it had already been designated, but the municipality has not yet made any official announcements.
On May 2, 2017, the authority of Apa-Canal Chisinau LCC announces a new tender for the design, acquisition, installation, testing and commissioning of the equipment for mechanical dehydration of the primary sludge formed at the Chisinau wastewater treatment plant.
When contacted by CrimeMoldova, Arcadie Rusnac has confirmed that he has been named the winner of the tender for the modernization of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, but he is still to be approved by the financiers: "The Commission worked, elaborated the report and sent it to the EBRD. Now the bank has to decide. But there is a problem, that of tariffs. One of the conditions of the EBRD is to adjust the tariffs that consumers pay to meet the costs borne by the supplier. Nothing has changed since 2009". When asked about the winning company, the Apa-Canal official responded that the information was confidential.
As for the May 2 auction, Rusnac said it was about a temporary solution to halt the bad smell in the capital: "The technology has evolved and the geotubes are history now. With the money we have, we would like to implement these technologies. We have to do something, the inhabitants of Bubuieci and Botanica sectors attack us with complaints that they can not live because of the bad smell. I wanted to meet them halfway, and therefore announced this auction."