Our publication, „Ziarul de Investigații”, wrote before the fact that this deposit of 54 million tons of slag had to be closed by covering it with a layer of fertile soil, but the Ministry of the Environment approved the cheaper option of „self-cementing” under the action of the rains.
70 years have passed since rain and snow fell on the Slag Dump, which has not „self-cemented” and gusts of wind blow up clouds of slag dust that reach the surrounding farmlands, covering them with a fine powder .
This place is on the list of 68 waste dumps for which Romania was condemned by the Court of Justice of the European Union because the state was unable to close them. In order to stop the pollution of towns and agricultural lands, the Ministry of the Environment forced the administration of the combine to close the Slag Dump in 2023.
But the Ministry of the Environment, through the Galați Environmental Guard, is impassively watching as a company from Galați moves the slag from the dump to a new warehouse, located a few kilometers from the Slag Dump, which must be closed. For 3-4 months, dozens of high-capacity dump trucks have been carrying slag to the new dump, spreading clouds of dust on the surrounding fields. Farmers say their crops have halved.
The new dump is more dangerous, because it is located 300-400 meters from the houses in the Smârdan commune of Galăți, but the head of the Galați Environmental Guard believes that it is a normal situation, because the company that stores the slag wants to use it for roads and under these conditions, slag is no longer waste, but „raw material”, and the new dump can operate without authorization because it is a „raw material deposit”. Thus, a hazardous waste for the environment and human health became acceptable after its label was changed: „raw material”!
Nightmare: The combines that harvest grain raise slag dust into the air
Several hundred hectares of agricultural land located in the area of the dump in Galați offer the image of an ecological disaster.
The plants are withered, some almost dry, with the leaves covered with a fine powder, and the ground is covered with a white dust. Combines harvesting the betel leaves kick up little clouds of white dust into the air.
It is not the setting created for the making of a film about an ecological disaster, but the result of the fact that for several months that area has been traversed daily by dozens of large-capacity dump trucks that transport slag from the Slag Dump of the Galați Iron and Steel Plant to a warehouse located a few kilometers of landfill.
„For 3-4 months, there are 15-20 trucks that make 6-7 slag runs each day. Every day, over a hundred trucks pass by, leaving clouds of dust in their wake. Part of the truck route is right on the agricultural land„, says farmer Dănuț Surcica, who cultivates an area of 200 hectares in this area.
According to him, the dust that took over the agricultural crops reduced the harvest by half: „This year, what we harvested, was compromised by at least 40-50%”.
A walnut orchard, established with funds from Brussels, almost destroyed by dust scattered by trucks
Recently, slag shipments from the „Liberty” Steel Plant dump have intensified, because the deadline for the dump’s closure is approaching. In fact, it will not be closed, being left to „self-cement”, but that is another story. Officially, the dump will have to be closed in 2023.
The closure of the dump is motivated by the fact that slag is a hazardous waste for human health.
The combined dump in Galati is on the list of 68 non-compliant waste dumps for which Romania was condemned by the Court of Justice of the European Union for not fulfilling the obligation assumed upon accession, to close these dumps in accordance with Directive 1999/31/EC.
But the closure of the dump is preceded by the appearance of a new dump to which some of the slag is moved.
The transports are carried out by the company Gendav SRL Galati, which, according to the local media, took over part of the contract with the company Moldionic SRL Galati with the Siderurgic Combine for the activity of storing hazardous waste. Gendav SRL, established in 2000, has a diverse activity, from ballast products to construction and mobile fuel stations.
In August 2021, the Galați Environmental Protection Agency issued the Environmental Authorization based on which Gendav SRL can carry out the activities of „recovery of sorted recyclable materials” and „wholesale of waste and scrap”.
„As a country, we close the slag dump of the combine, but we can make another slag dump next door”?!
It is an absurd situation, a fracture of logic in the functioning of the state. On the one hand, the Romanian state is obliged by the EU Court of Justice to close the Slag Dump in order to comply with Directive 1999/31/EC, which it assumed upon accession. Through the Ministry of the Environment, the Romanian state ensured that the administration of the „Liberty” Iron and Steel Plant will close the Dump in 2023. But the Ministry of the Environment also approves that another slag dump, just as dangerous for the environment and people’s health, will be established a few kilometers away.
It is also an incomprehensible situation for farmers affected by the transfer of slag from one dump to another: „I don’t know how it is that we, as a country, have to close the Combine’s Slag Dump, not complying with the environmental regulations of the European Union, but can we make another slag heap next door”?!
The commissioners of the Galati Environmental Guard did not see the disaster, but they noticed that the road on which the dump trucks travel does not appear in the documents
People addressed the Galaţi Environmental Guard, because the establishment of a new slag dump a few kilometers from the dump that will be closed is allegedly illegal. A first notification of the Galați Environmental Guard came through the address no. 95/12.05.2022, of SC Rodtud SRL, from Smârdan commune, the company of the farmer Dănuț Surcică, which indicated that „SC Gendav SRL improvised a road with a length of about 5 kilometers on which they travel with 60-70 trucks, with two trips a day raising enormous amounts of dust into the air, destroying our crops in very large proportions”.
On June 14, a team from the Galați Environmental Guard, made up of commissioners Daniel Tudorache and Silviu Anghel, descended on the scene
David Neagu, the administrator of Gendav SRL, was also present, and later the damaged farmer also appeared. In the „note of findings” of the commissioners, a situation was described in perfect legality, except for the road on which the tippers were traveling:
„The economic operator owns means of transport used for the transport and storage of slag from the Liberty platform, 0-63/63-120 mm granulation grades. The slag is transported on an access road located in the western part of the Iron and Steel Plant, with access to the Slag Dump, a paved road not mentioned in the cadastral maps, delimited by agricultural areas. The access road crosses several areas of land. Between the owners of the land on which the road is located and the user of the road, there is no contract or other document for legal use„, it says in the finding note no. 359/14.06.2022 of the Galaţi Environmental Guard.
The commissioners recommended the damaged farmer and the administrator of Gendav SRL to conclude an agreement for the use of the road: „the use of the access road by Gendav cars is prohibited without the consent of the land owners, and the implementation of the measure will be notified to GNM (email@example.com )„.
The commissioners of the Environmental Guard did not see what was more important, the dust that took over the area. They noted that the Gendav SRL dumpers were carrying „0-63 grit grades”, which also means dust, but they didn’t even suggest that to avoid the dust being scattered, the slag should be covered with tarps.
A new report to the Environmental Guard: the new slag dump is 300 meters from the homes in the Smârdan area
In August, the farmer submitted a new complaint to the Galati Environmental Guard. In address no. 170/CJGl/23.08.2022, Dănuț Surcică reminds the head of the Galați Environmental Guard, Sorin Dănăilă, that in June he reported that the slag dust scattered by dump trucks destroys agricultural crops in the area, insisting also on the fact that the Gendav SRL dump trucks n -should have traveled on that road in the absence of an agreement with the owners of the land, but the carrying of slag continued day after day. The farmer also noticed that the slag is stored near the houses in Smârdan:
„SC Gendav SRL stores the transported slag in the immediate vicinity of the residential houses in the Smârdan commune (approximately 300-400 meters from the first house) endangering both our future crops and the health of the residents in the immediate vicinity of the slag deposit”, says in the report addressed to the Galați Environmental Guard. Photos and video recordings of the clouds of dust scattered in the air by Gendav SRL trucks were attached to the new notification.
Romanian telepathy: „The Environment Guard is coming, the trucks are no longer moving.” The Environment Guard is leaving, the trucks are starting to circulate”
Another strange situation in this case is that every time the commissioners of the Environmental Guard descend on the area, the tipper races are interrupted. One of the findings of the Galaţi Environmental Guard is astonishing in relation to the photos and video recordings that demonstrate the pace at which the slag is being moved from one dump to another: „Following the checks in the field between 9.00 and 11.00, it was not identified either a means of transport to cover that road”.
The explanation comes from the farmer who noticed a perfect correlation between the arrival of the control teams from the Environmental Guard and the temporary interruption of slag transports: „The Environment is coming, the trucks are no longer moving. The Environment is leaving, the trucks are starting to circulate”!
The road on which the slag dump trucks travel is more important to the head of the Galaţi Environmental Guard than the appearance of the new dump
The main concern of those from the Galati Environmental Guard should be the risk created for people’s health by storing the slag 300 meters from the houses in Smârdan, but they are concerned about the situation of the road on which the dump trucks travel.
In the exchange of correspondence there is also a passage that suggests the optimism of those from the Environmental Guard because the road situation would have been clarified after the administrator of Gendav SRL brought two documents issued by the Town Hall of the Şendreni commune, to which the village of Movileni belongs, which is also near the Slag Dump: „The operator Gendav presented two extracts from the land register no. 106.201/106.202/28.08.2022, from which the current use category of the land is a road owned by UAT Şendreni”.
The farmer sent a new notification to the Galaţi Environmental Guard, this time through a lawyer, arguing with data that the road provided in the land deed extracts brought by Gendav SRL is not the road on which the slag dumpers travel: „In the area in question there is also a road that belongs to UAT Șendreni, but the Gendav SRL trucks use another road and not the one from the land book extracts”, it says in address no. 176/CJGl/01.09.2022.
In conclusion, those from the Galați Environmental Guard avoided addressing the main problem in the area, environmental pollution and putting people’s health at risk, and in order to mask the abandonment of the main objectives, they led the entire debate to the unimportant subject, the situation of the road on which they travel tippers.
The administrator of Gendav SRL: „Everything is legal”
The manager of the company that set up the new slag dump, effectively the new „dump” and is transporting the slag at a work rate not seen in the area since the combine was built, offered a succinct view.
„That combined crushed material is accredited, and we use it for roads. Everything is legal”, stated David Neagu, the administrator of Gendav SRL.
Sorin Dănăilă, head of the Galati Environmental Guard: it’s not slag, it’s „raw material”!
The head of the Galaţi Environmental Guard, Sorin Dănăilă, is the quietest of the protagonists of this case, although he is the one who should be the most concerned about the fact that from a slag dump, a dangerous waste for the environment and people’s health, there are large quantities are taken which are transported and stored in a new dump, located a few hundred meters from the homes of the people of Smârdan.
Dănăilă has a hallucinatory explanation. The slag was hazardous waste as long as it was stored in the „Liberty” Combine Slag Dump, but once loaded into the Gendav SRL tippers it is no longer slag, but „raw material”:
„The storage space that is claimed by the citizens there is a space for raw material, on the property of the claimed. The raw material area does not need an environmental permit„, explained the head of the Galați Environmental Guard.
Even though photos and video recordings were sent to him, the head of the Galati Environmental Guard is circumspect about the slag shipments, he says that they were not seen by his men, but he admits that „vague traces” of dust: „My colleagues, for a period of time, did not even find any cars on that road and said that there were vague traces of dust from that one on the agricultural land.” Earth-colored dust is found on any agricultural land, but white dust, such as that from the area of slag hauling, is a rarity.
Fight at the Galați Environmental Guard! Why did the current boss fight with a commissioner who controlled slag shipments?
On July 29, a violent conflict took place at the Galați Environmental Guard between chief commissioner Sorin Dănăilă and commissioner Daniel Tudorache, who carried out the control in the slag transport area on June 14.
Sorin Dănăilă became chief commissar based on the party card. He was supported by the leader of PNL Galați, deputy George Stângă, in the functions of director of ANIF Galați (2021-2022) and became the head of the Galați Environmental Guard in July, after Aurelian Păduraru, the president of the Galați PNL Pensioners Organization, passed from the position of secretary of state at the MAI in that of general commissioner of the National Environmental Guard.
Tudorache was chief commissioner of the Galați Environmental Guard, he was sub-prefect during the Boc government, but returned to the position of commissioner at the Environmental Guard.
From the argument, the two got into a fight and in order to separate them, the Police was alerted by a call to 112. Commissioner Tudorache was picked up by the „Ambulance” and transported to the „Emergency” of the County Hospital in Galati. Later, chief commissioner Dănăilă also arrived at the hospital. Basically, part of the Galati Environmental Guard arrived at the hospital!
The police determined that the two had a fight due to „differences regarding the service” and opened a criminal case: „The police have drawn up a criminal case and are investigating for the commission of the crime of hitting or other violence”, explained the representatives of the Police Inspectorate of Galati County. What „divergences” did the two fight over? Is it also because they had divergent opinions about the differences between the slag and the „raw material” stored in the new Smârdan dump?