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Azerbaijan: Beach Cleanup in Sumgayit

the details…
Key pollutant
PCBs, Benzene, Benzo[a]pyrene
Population affected
Children Under 6 Affected
DALYs averted
Date started
May 2014
Date completed
May 2015
Cost of project

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.

Over 600 cubic meters of contaminated sand and soil was dug up and carted away to a designated landfill, where it is now contained safely. Clean fill was subsequently brought in and flattened with a bulldozer.

To stabilize the sandy soil and prevent erosion, Pure Earth planted a number of trees and shrubs.  A special irrigation system was installed to insure the success of the plants.

From the Pollution Blog:

A Personal Story Of Pollution In Azerbaijan, And A Childhood Caught Between Polluted And Clean

A Toxic Beach in Azerbaijan Gets Cleaned Up, Solar Baths Become Safer

New Signs Of Life: Greenery Sprouts From Once-Toxic Beach