Sumgayit is the third largest city of Azerbaijan with a population of over 300,000 people. In 2007, Sumgayit was named one of the world’s worst polluted places. One of the toxic sites is a public beach, where contaminated wastes from a chemical plant have been dumped.
The area is a part of a large industrial area. The site was tested for a variety of contaminants including persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, and petroleum products. The most toxic persistent pollutants found at the site in high concentrations were benzo[a]pyrene, benzene, and PCBs. The latest study of the site contamination was conducted jointly by SOCAR and Pure Earth in 2014.
Cancer rates in Sumgayit are 22-51% higher than average incidence rates in the rest of Azerbaijan. Mortality rates from cancer are 8% higher.
Pure Earth worked with local stakeholder groups and developed partnerships with the relevant ministries to clean up the site.
This beach cleanup is the first remediation project Pure Earth has done in the country.
Contaminated sand and soil was dug up and carted away to a designated landfill, where it is now contained safely. Clean fill was then brought in and flattened with a bulldozer.
To stabilize the sandy soil and prevent erosion, Pure Earth is currently planting ten to 15 species of local tress and shrubs. Plans are underway for an irrigation system to maintain the greenery.
From the Pollution Blog: