According to Tomas Eikinas, CEO of Grigeo Klaipėda, many important documents have been taken by the prosecutor’s office for the purpose of the pre-trial investigation, thus the commission’s work itself has taken some time and some of the facts could not be confirmed by the necessary documentation. “We understand the responsibility that is borne by the Company and are not fleeing from it. We cooperate with law enforcement and environmentalists to reveal more facts as soon as possible. So far, we ourselves have been wondering what were the motives for the discharge of biologically untreated sewage when the operation of the Company was profitable. It is easier For me, who is in charge of the Company just for a couple of months, to breathe, because of the facts that the concentrations of many heavy metals in the sewage were even below norms established for the drinking water, and environmentalists have not found any significant changes in the water of the lagoon,” says T. Eikinas.
Sewage treatment is the responsibility of managers
Grigeo Klaipėda sewage treatment plant was built in Dumpiai around 1976, and in 2004 modernization works included installation of sewage biological treatment capabilities. In 2012, sewage treatment plants were reconstructed and an emergency work mode valve was installed to ensure a stable operation of biological treatment plant.
Since 2012, Grigeo Klaipėda has assigned the operation of the sewage biological treatment plant and the organization and control the sewage treatment process to the production unit of the Company. From 30 May 2011 to 17 May 2019 the head of this unit was Jonas Garalis. He was responsible for organizing the work of the production unit, controlling the technological process of production, as well as timely ordering and targeted use of raw materials. The CEO of Grigeo Klaipėda is responsible for the approval and implementation of the Company’s sewage treatment procedures. From 11 June 2013 to 17 May 2019 the Company was headed by Vidas Beržonskis.
The findings state that the actions and decisions, due to which some of the biologically untreated sewage entered the sewage networks of Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC, were largely made during the period when the company was headed by V. Beržonskis, and the position of the production manager was held by J. Garalis. The managers who replaced them could not objectively know, and, as far as the Company knows, did not know, about the existence of the problem, and even if they knew that such a problem existed, then they did not know its magnitude, intensity, duration, as well as the way and/or means to address it.
Both of these individuals were dismissed from the Company after facts of their illegal activities were uncovered. Back in the summer of 2019, Grigeo Klaipėda contacted the Klaipėda County Prosecutor’s Office and initiated a pre-trial investigation into the actions of former managers, the squandering of property, and the damage caused to the Company. On 6 December 2019 Grigeo Klaipėda filed a lawsuit with the court against these managers for the compensation of damages in the amount of 1.3 million euros. This week the company will file another lawsuit against former managers for the compensation of damages in the amount of 1.55 million euros.
The potential criminal activity of former managers, manifesting as squandering of the property of the Company and systematic action against the interests of the Company, as well as criminal (negligent) failure to perform their duties lasted nine years - from 2011 to spring of 2019.
Grigeo Klaipėda is claiming millions of damages from these managers for the transactions, related to the purchase of dyes and starch, that they concluded against the interest of the Company. With the replacement of the aforementioned managers and the renewal of the raw material purchase agreement, the price of dyes supplied by Algol Chemicals to Grigeo Klaipėda decreased by one third.
Grigeo Klaipėda is currently conducting an internal legal and financial investigation into other actions of former managers and transactions, related to the acquisition of chemicals, logistics and other services, in order to determine whether these transactions were financially detrimental or economically disadvantageous for the company.
Sewage comprised up to 7% of the total amount of sewage from Klaipėdos Vanduo
The findings show that there is no direct pipe going into the Curonian lagoon from the territory of Grigeo Klaipėda. All sewage from the factory was collected and pumped to the company’s treatment plant located outside Klaipėda city, at Dumpiai, where the pre-treated sewage mixes into the common flow with the treated sewage of Klaipėdos Vanduo and flows another 10km via closed channel into the lagoon.
After analyzing sewage volumes, the Commission concludes that sewage of Grigeo Klaipėda accounted for 4.2-7% of the total sewage amount of Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC over the period of 2012-2019.
It was determined that all sewage from Grigeo Klaipėda is subjected to a mechanical treatment, they entered the sewage transportation line after the treatment in a flotator that is present at the factory, which captures floating solid particles. Mechanical and biological treatment continues in Dumpiai village.
The Commission also found that all sewage was accounted for, even the sewage that flowed through an emergency pipe, so it was impossible to discharge sewage directly into the Curonian Lagoon in secret. It is not possible for sewage to bypass the sewage outlet recording unit.
Biochemical composition of sewage: the dominant component is starch used in the food industry
The suspended materials from sewage, that is generated during the recycling of waste-paper in the paper-making process of Grigeo Klaipėda, consists of fine fiber, which in its biochemical composition is similar to rotting wood in the forest. In addition, the fiber had already been deposited and removed in a mechanical treatment plant. The findings state that biochemical oxygen of the sewage (BOS) consists only of soluble organic substances, most of which is likely to be starch in the recycled waste-paper. Starch is also used in the food industry.
Sewage pre-treated by Grigeo Klaipėda flown into the common stream with the sewage treated by Klaipėdos Vanduo, then flowed via closed channel for another 10 km into to the lagoon. The process of sewage flowing through a 10 km closed channel owned by Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC lasted about 4 hours. During this flow the decomposition (purification) process of the biologically untreated sewage that mixed with the treated sewage took place as well.
Natural biochemical processes occur in the sewage that flow from the factory of the Company to Dumpiai, in a 14 km long pipe, and these reduce sewage contamination (in case of BDS7 by 38%). The findings assume that the 10 km pipe of Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC is a part of the natural sewage treatment process, not just a means of transportation.
The company intends to engage independent experts and to carry out modelling of the process from the point where its partially untreated sewage entered the pre-treated sewage collector of Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC to the outlet of Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC at the Curonian Lagoon.
Concentrations of heavy metals do not exceed the permissible limits
From 7 January 2020 to 21 January 2020 Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC carried out qualitative laboratory testing of Grigeo Klaipėda production sewage. Sewage samples were taken at sampling point located at Nemuno g. 2, Klaipėda. The concentrations of heavy metals, even in completely untreated sewage, are below the maximum permissible concentration for sewage discharged into the natural environment, with the exception of zinc. This indicator is slightly above the norm and such sewage could not be released into the environment without treatment. The Company does not use heavy metals in the production process, they may enter sewage water only during the recycling of the company’s main raw material - waste-paper, and the amount of heavy metals in it is minimal.
“It can be concluded that even when completely untreated, the amount of heavy metals in manufacturing sewage does not substantially exceed the permitted concentrations”, is stated in the findings.
Environmental Protection Agency: the ecological condition of the Curonian Lagoon is mostly dependent on the discharge of the Nemunas River
The findings state that the company assumes responsibility for the discharge of some biologically untreated sewage into the sewage collector of Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC, and the damage caused to nature (environment) by these actions must be compensated according to its extent determined by expert calculations based on the results of the location of sample discharge into the Curonian Lagoon and by determining all the conditions of the civil liability.
Grigeo Klaipėda contacted the Department of Environmental Protection with a request to provide the Company with the results of the Curonian Lagoon water sample of the tests that were carried out in 2012-2020. The Environmental Protection Agency stated that, in general, the results of multi-year (2000-2019) testing did not show an exceptionally worse ecological and chemical condition at the outlet of Klaipėdos Vanduo JSC. The ecological condition of the Curonian Lagoon (especially its central part) is mainly dependent on the discharge of the Nemunas River and loads of brought in nutrients, while in the northern part of the Curonian Lagoon frequent seawater inflows bring water masses with lower nutrient concentrations.
Grigeo Klaipėda contacted the Department of Environmental Protection with a request to prepare and approve a plan of measures for the environment restoration that would be applicable to it. The Company seeks to find out the extent of the environmental damage that was caused when some of the biologically untreated sewage was discharged into the treated sewage collector of Klaipėdos Vanduo, and is ready to restore the initial state of the environment as soon as possible or to compensate the damage that was caused to it.