Lithuanian pollution dispersed off Liepāja coast

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The State Environmental Service (SES) announced that Latvian residents have no need for concern about the waste water from the Grigeo Klaipeda factory that ended up in the Baltic Sea, as it has dispersed off the coast of Liepāja and meets all water quality standards, according to a Latvian Radio broadcast on January 16.

The SES will continue to follow the situation following the January 7 event where Lithuanian environmental specialists in cooperation with law enforcement revealed the discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage into the channel that opens into the Curonian inlet. SES Deputy General Director Evija Šmite said that the factory used to be included as a Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) hot point, but has since been modernized.

“They've informed us about the substances and concentrations found before treatment, before it was released into the sea, and it doesn't show catastrophic or dangerous, toxic substances,” said Šmite.

Swimming in the sea is a daily occurrence for many Liepāja residents, especially in the summer, so residents are rightfully worried. However it wasn't too long ago that Liepāja itself was a big polluter with municipal sewage from the Karosta area of Liepāja flowing into the sea. The situation was cleaned up in 2009.

“Judging by the fact that the municipality regularly conducts analysis during the swim season, then during the last eight years when we were applying for the Blue Flag microbiological indicators haven't exceeded the threshold,” said a Liepāja resident.

The Klaipeda prosecutor's office is investigating the situation and Latvian institutions have requested information on the scope of the pollution, but further information is not currently available. Šmite explains that due to the direction of the winds and currents the Latvian sea water is most directly impacted by what happens to the south and southwest, where Lithuania is located.

“From Lithuania to Jūrmalciems the sea water quality is worse, closer to Liepāja the water quality improves, the pollution from Lithuania has disintegrated - this is confirmed by environmental monitoring and measurements by the Lithuanian border,” said Šmite.

The paper product and carton production company Grigo Klaipeda produces Grite toilet paper and paper towels from recycled paper that can be bought in Latvian supermarkets. The company also has several factories near Vilnius. After the pollution was revealed the factory began to treat it's wastewater through the Klaipeda Water system. The company also announced in a press release on January 10 that it has set up a fund for cleaning the inlet.

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