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Photo Essays

Ole Elfenkämper | Rape of growth

04/07/2011. Toni grew up in Ballsh and went to Greece for work. As the economy crisis started, he lost his job and therefore he had to leave Greece. Now he lives back at home with his family and helps out in his fathers motorcycle garage.
[D]ilapidated industrial plants, a lack of sewage plants and high air pollution burden the environment. Cities like Ballsh, Patos or Elbasan in central Albania reveal the extent of the lack of environmental awareness and the indifference of big company’s. Rivers, soil and lakes are so heavily polluted that it would take decades to eliminate the damage and the people have no other choice but to live in this pollution. The farmers use the contaminated water to irrigate their fields. Animals and human beings in these regions are in major health risk. Furthermore, a lack of safety measures in factories pose a potential danger for the workers. Time after time workers in the oil or steel industry pay for their jobs with their lives.

Until 2010, the goverment had initiated an enviromental program to reduce the level of pollution to a european mediocrity. That program was only translated partly into action and terminated without real success. Currently, there are still plans to advance the protection of the environment. For the current government these plans take low priority, so that an improvement of the situation can not be expected anytime soon.

05/07/2011. Many Oil tanks and pipelines are in a very bad condition. Heavy oil leaks out uncontrolled and causes serious damage to the nature and the people who are living in it. The lake in the background is badly polluted for more than ten years now. Back in the days, farmers used the clear water to watering their fields.
05/07/2011. An elderly woman standing in front of an oil polluted field. Oil leaked out of the tanks and destroyed her surrounding environment. “There were no environmental problems, poverty or something like that during Enver Hoxha’s regime”, she said.
09/09/2011. In 2000, The United Nation’s Enviromental Program (UNEP), declared Porto Romano ,,an enviromental disaster area” and ,,one of the worst enviromental hotspots on the Balkans.” 500 meters away lays the abandoned chemical plant that produced a toxic insecticide called Lindane (gamma-HCH) and sodium chromate for use in the leather tanning industry. The whole area of Porto Romano is heavily contaminated. The dangerous concentrations of hazardous chemicals were dumped beside the former plant. Most of the citizens, including children, used to work and still work at the garbage dump, due to the lack of work opportunities. In many cases, the Albanian government has let the people down.
03/08/2011. A man working at a smelting furnace nearby Fushe Kurja. Before 2011 he used old tires for heating the furnace. Nowadays it is prohibited by law to burn tires and the people are afraid of being fined.
09/09/2011. Pigs rest at the garbage dump in Porto Romano, in a toxic and sewage polluted puddle.
02/08/2011. An abandoned and fallen over shaft tower lays in an oil polluted lake at the Patos – Marinza oil field, europe’s biggest on shore oil field. The current production for the first quarter of 2012 is 25000 bopd, according to Bankers Petroleum.
02/08/2011. After the political change in the 90ies everything fall apart and the people and companies didnt care about the preservation and protection of the environment.
30/08/2011. Teenagers from the village Belina, which is located in the middle of the Patos – Marinza oil field. The village and the environment is heavily polluted since more than 50 years.
05/07/2011. A family in the village Qficina pumps out water from the polluted river Gjanica. They use the water for growing tomatoes. “We pump out the water below the oil spill. Thus, it isn´t dangerous”, they said.
04/07/2011. A young man fishes in the river Seman, the most spoiled stream in the region. The river flows into the sea nearby Fier, a city most popular to tourism.
08/08/2011. The inhabitants of the village Belina, which is located in the middle of the Patos-Marinza oil field, the biggest on shore oil field in Europe, looking at a run-of-the-mill view of a burning oil puddle.
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