Sewage dumping scandals rock Lithuania

Lithuanian investigators have recently discovered that cardboard producer Grigeo Klaipėda has been releasing untreated wastewater directly into the Caronian Lagoon for years. The scandal has also revived anger over Vilnius water supply company Vilniaus Vandenys pouring unprocessed plastic waste into the Neris River for years. Will these scandals lead to changes in the country?

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Delfi (LT) /

Growing awareness of environmental issues points out that a similar scandal involving the Vilnius waterworks attracted far less attention:

“At the time, the representatives of Vilniaus Vandenys had tried to convince the public that it wasn't filthy sewage flowing into the Neris, but just mud. They claimed the water posed no threat to nature or people and wouldn't listen to any talk of plastics. Today, however, the reaction is completely different. ... It's good that things are changing.”

Verslo žinios (LT) /

Social responsibility often just PR

Companies often claim to be acting in a socially and environmentally responsible manner without actually doing so, communications consultant Marta Misiulaitytė comments on the website of business paper Verslo žinios:

“Social responsibility is often faked, or only superficially implemented. So it's difficult for consumers to distinguish between when companies are acting responsibly and when they are simply adapting their language to the trend. ... Take the example of Grigeo: it claims to take 'responsibility for the influence of its activities on the social and economic world, as well as on nature'. From what we know today, that all sounds absurd.”

Delfi (LT) /

Red cards that hit where it hurts

A boycott movement has formed since the scandal was uncovered, Delfi is pleased to report:

“The economic community has shown the lagoon polluters the red card of its own accord, without being forced by anyone. The decision by [supermarket chains] Iki, Norfa and Senukai to stop buying from Grigeo was a real novelty. But even that wasn't the most painful jab. Five furniture companies, including SBA baldų kompanija and Vilniaus baldai, which produce on behalf of Ikea, have suspended purchases of Grigeo Klaipėda products until further notice. ... The factory is threatened with producing for its warehouse, which is a real crisis scenario. And what will buyers in the rest of the EU have to say?”

Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

Authorities burying their heads in the sand

Lietuvos rytas explains how this environmental scandal has been swept under the carpet for decades:

“The environmental protection officers who were called in for the investigation into the secret illegal pipes through which production waste was discharged into the lagoon and the Baltic Sea were not from Klaipėda but from Šiauliai [170 kilometres away]. Incidentally, the investigation only began when the local community finally turned to the highest authorities in Vilnius after years of futile complaints about the stench. ... But the officials claim that not only did they have no knowledge of the environmental disaster that has been worsening for almost a decade, but that they had no means of finding out about it.”