Firefighters largely extinguished on Tuesday a massive fire in a chemical plant in Yerevan that raised health concerns among people in nearby residential areas.
The blaze quickly engulfed on Monday storage containers filled with chemical waste from the Nairit plant located on the city’s southern outskirts.More than a hundred firefighters were sent to the scene to contain it.
The Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) said that they put out the flames in three of the four burning tanks by Tuesday burning. “A small source of fire remains active only in one container,” it said in a statement. Black smoke was still billowing from it in the afternoon.
“Cooling efforts are still being made to prevent further outbreaks of fire,” the head of the ministry’s National Center for Crisis Management, Hovannes Khangeldian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Some officials suggested that the fire was caused by an explosion. “It is too early to speak of theories,” cautioned Khangeldian. “I think that relevant bodies will examine all theories and establish the causes.”
In another statement issued later in the day, the MES said it will conduct forensic tests for that purpose. Some “materials regarding the fire” have already been submitted to an Armenian law-enforcement body, it added.
The Armenian ministries of environment and health said, meanwhile, that they took air samples from parts of Yerevan’s Shengavit district adjacent to Nairit. They insisted that toxic emissions from the fire pose no major health risks to local residents.
Still, the Health Ministry released a written statement on Monday urging them to stay indoors and shut their windows.
Some Shengavit residents complained that government officials did not visit their neighborhoods and communicate with them in person. “They could have told us what to do through megaphones,” said one woman. “They work much harder during elections.”