Qani Rredhi stands at the edge of a ditch and looks at a dazzlingly colorful stream. It smells like rubber and rotten eggs. The environmental activist, a man with sparse gray hair and usually with a cigarette between his fingers, discovered the suspiciously colorful stream a few hours earlier.

The 68-year-old immediately photographed the irrigation canal in the village of Zharrëz, into which the ditch flows: black smeared reeds, wrinkles created by accumulating oil on the surface of the water. Then he called the environmental regulator and a few journalists with nimble fingers on his smartphone.

Now Rredhi watches as an environmental engineer descends into the ditch. Right leg first, onto the ditch wall, left leg behind. The loose earth gives way and the engineer almost slips into the broth with his city shoes. He quickly lunges over the trickle, then stands with his legs apart over it. Police officers watch.

The site of the state oil company Albpetrol begins right next to the ditch. There are tanks dozens of meters in diameter here, their walls wet and full of streaks of rust.

Access to all STERN PLUS content and articles from the print magazine


Already registered?