Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Delyan Dobrev in an interview with Radio Focus.
Focus: Minister Dobrev, you paid a visit to some of the coal production objects in Pernik. Is it true that the mine galleries had no contribution for the effects of the earthquake?
Delyan Dobrev: No, they do not. This is clearly visible from the level of destruction of the buildings. The clearest sign is that buildings, which are situated in regions with 3-4 layers of mining activity and buildings in regions where no mining activities have ever been undertaken have suffered the same damages. This is a clear proof that the damages from the earthquake were not influenced in any way by mine galleries. There are even buildings in regions of Pernik, where mining activity has never been present, which have suffered more serious damages than buildings from zones with active mining activity.
Focus: Mr Dobrev, why are people in Pernik worried by the mine galleries then?
Delyan Dobrev: There have been a lot of speculations that the mining activity under some residential districts in Pernik would cause a tragedy in case of an earthquake stronger than magnitude-4. We clearly saw that this was not the case. This week’s earthquake was almost of magnitude-6 and the damages were not even close to what people predicted and feared. This does not, however, mean that we must relax and do nothing, quite the contrary – we must continue with our programme for monitoring the mine galleries and examining the condition of the mine layers, as we are working on several projects in this regard. In 2010 and 2011 we ended a project, which so to say mapped the mine galleries in detail and placed the result of 120 years of mining activity in the city of Pernik, so we could see which parts of the city were subject to mining activities over the years. On the basis of this project, we are currently working on another project, which places fixed datum points on the areas with mining activity, which are monitored, and the monitoring covers their levels, condition, horizontal and vertical direction so that we can react if any discrepancies occur as time goes by. We also drill these points, so that we can see what the conditions in depth of the galleries are – whether there is any underground water, what is the water’s content, so we can estimate whether any additional work for the strengthening and fortification of the region is required. The results of these drills and the monitoring of the fixed datum points will contribute towards a large-scale solution for improving the stability of these regions, as the necessary engineering measure for improving the stability will be taken.
Focus: In this case, when do you think your project will be completed, so that the any possible future dangers from the mining galleries in question can be eliminated?
Delyan Dobrev: We are currently working on this project, and a drill has already been made. The project is financed by the Bulgarian government. This project should be completed by the end of the year, or the beginning of 2013, after which the database collected during the project would be analysed and engineering solutions would be proposed and a plan for their financing would be made, if such solutions ended up to be necessary.
Focus: Minister Dobrev, the relocation of the Tourism Directorate with your ministry in Plovdiv has already started. How are the first steps towards decentralisation of the administration going?
Delyan Dobrev: The Council of Minister changed regulations of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism, with which the Tourism Directorate would be relocated in Plovdiv. You know that there is a refurbished building in Plovdiv, which is ready to welcome our directorate. The Plovdiv Municipality also assisted us by providing municipal homes for the people, who would decide to relocate and work in Plovdiv. According to our calculations, around 30 people from the administration of the Tourism Directorate will be relocated. Most of the people have agreed to move to Plovdiv, despite the difficulties connected with moving to another city. They are ready to move, as they understand that these solutions will have a very beneficial effect, in a long-term perspective. We, Bulgarians, do not usually like changing our homes. This is not so unusual for other countries.
Focus: Will you have enough money in the budget for this relocation?
Delyan Dobrev: Yes, we will. We have made all necessary calculations, and everything will be in order.