Ecological problems of Lithuania

What is the ecological situation in Lithuania? According to the data of the Ministry of Environment, “currently the natural conditions in the territory of the Republic of Lithuania do not endanger the existence of the nation and the state”.

Over the past year more than 50% of the main pollutants entering in the surface of water bodies have been reduced. However, only 40% of the wastewater is cleaned up to the established limits, as most of the wastewater treatment plants of the polluted water are physically and morally obsolete. Water supply networks are worn out and do not ensure the quality of the supplied drinking water. A large number of domestic production units use more energy, raw materials and water than European Union (EU) companies.

Each year there are over 3.5 million tons of non-hazardous (of which about 1 million tons of municipal waste) and about 110 thousand tons of hazardous waste. Most non-hazardous waste is landfilled. There is little developed municipal waste management system, many of the operating landfills do not meet environmental requirements. Dangerous waste in the home continues to be transported to landfills. The issues of collection and utilization of galvanic elements, medical waste, various hazardous industrial waste are not completely solved.

Every year about 120-140 events are registered in Lithuania, in which the environment and people were or could be harmed. During the drought period, over 1000 peat bogs, peatland meadows and forest fires are registered, and forests contain areas damaged by forest pests or diseases.

In the Baltic Sea there is about 10% of oil contamination due to deliberate, illegally discharging of oil products from cargo spaces in ships’ spaces. Crashes at sea is another cause of oil spill. Over the past 11 years, 251 ships have been crashed in the Baltic Sea. Every fifth accident led to oil spill. In  2000 and 2001 2756 m³ of oil were spilled into the sea, of which 2500 m³ during one accident. It was one of the biggest accidents in the Baltic Sea.

Oil pollution is most commonly observed in places where intensive human activities relate to shipping, shipbuilding and ship repair, as well as large areas of ship gathering. Marine Environmental Protection Agency since 2000 until 2003 recorded 187 Baltic Sea pollution cases on the Lithuanian coast and Klaipėda port area. In November 2001, a pollution case occurred while loading an oil tanker at Būtingė Terminal. Due to extreme weather, an underwater oil pipeline was missing, 59 tons of oil spilled into the sea.

The main causes of ecological accidents are non-compliance with safety rules, irresponsibility of corporate personnel, unnecessary savings, and information hiding.

Algirdas Jurgelevičius, Vice President of the “Eastern European Association of the Greens”