Call 112 to report environmental damage2014-03-12
Starting tomorrow, March 13th, the people of Lithuania will be able to report grass fires, poachers, environmental pollution and other environmental protection violations to the 112 emergency phone number.
“When we begin to accept calls about environmental damage to 112, our entire system will begin to function. Every region will have teams on watch around the clock. They will receive that information immediately. We will finally be able to do that which we should have done ages ago,” - said Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis during today's press conference.
Vice-Minister of Environment Linas Jonauskas, Environmental Protection Agency director Raimondas Sakalauskas, Fire and Rescue Department under the Ministry of the Interior director Remigijus Baniulis and Emergency Response Center chief Jūris Targauskas all participated in the press conference as well.
Up until now, people had to call their regional environmental protection departments to report environmental violations. However, remembering their phone numbers was a hassle, and if reports were made at night, they would simply be recorded on the answering machine. Creating a 24-hour phone line just for environmental protection would have been very expensive, so an optimal solution was found – the 112 emergency phone number. The Ministry of Environment initiated a cooperative contract with the Emergency Response Center to this end.
Environmental Protection Agency director Raimondas Sakalauskas and Emergency Response Center chief Jūris Targonskas signed that contract today. According to this contract, callers to 112 will be able to report poaching, the illegal cutting of forests or other growths, fires being lit in prohibited areas, tire and other waste burning, hazardous waste dumpage, forest floor destruction, hazardous waste spills, chemical and radioactive incidents, the discovery of potentially hazardous materials, traffic incidents with animals, fish suffocation and death, and animals that have been found dead.
“One team on watch per region is a drop in the bucket, but for the time being, we are doing everything out of our own resources. We're reorganizing and saving money – we haven't asked for a single cent. All of our inspectors' vehicles will have GPS. We will control these vehicles' movements. This will allow us to logically direct our officers' efforts and conserve fuel,” - said Valentinas Mazuronis. Because the teams will be on watch around the clock, 350 thousand Lt a year will be spent on additional worker salaries from the Environmental protection support program.
Beginning on July 1st, plans call for the establishment of an analysis division at the Ministry of Environment that will examine all reports made about environmental protection violations and will find ways to respond to them more quickly and effectively.
According to the minister, it will be impossible to move mountains with the resources currently available, but everything has to start with small steps. This is just the beginning of a larger task. For now, each team of environmental protection officers will be responsible for several regions. “Little by little, we will look for financial resources and posts that would help us create a fully functional system,” - said the minister of environment.
Public Information Division