DUSHANBE -- The Tajik Aluminum Company (Talco) has rejected allegations by an Uzbek political organization that its plant near the Tajik-Uzbek border has caused tens of millions of dollars worth of damage in Uzbekistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
The Uzbek Environmental Movement, which has 15 seats in the Uzbek parliament, said it has calculated the environmental damage from Talco to Uzbekistan's Surkhondaryo region on the basis of research by Uzbek scientists. It claims Talco is responsible for some $228 million in damage to four districts in the region.
Talco head Sadriddin Sharifov told RFE/RL the company has been using new technology since August to reduce the volume of emissions from its plant in Tursunzoda, which is 25 kilometers from the border. He added that TALCO has also allocated 30 million somonis (about $7 million) for environmental projects this year.
The movement has also called for the creation of a joint Tajik-Uzbek commission to review the results of its research and to seek input from independent environmentalists.
Rustam Latipov, who heads the Tajik parliament's environmental commission, told RFE/RL that Dushanbe is prepared to cooperate with Uzbekistan. He also noted that a joint commission created in 1994 was dissolved by the Uzbek side in 2002.
Latipov said he also doubts the accuracy of the Uzbek claims about damage from pollution. He said the now-dissolved joint commission did not register any substantial environmental damage in Uzbekistan from Talco's production.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Russian Green Party leader Aleksei Yablokov said the Uzbek side's accusation is not unfounded. But he added that many Uzbek industrial facilities also inflict damage on the country's environment.
Yablokov said every aluminium company should spend at least 30 percent of its profits on investing in environment-friendly technology. He noted that Talco has allocated only about $7 million for that purpose this year, even though it sold aluminum worth $500 million from January-September.
Talco is Tajikistan's largest industrial facility, producing more than 400,000 tons of primary aluminum every year. It accounts for some 60 percent of the country's exports.