The communist regime's policy of developing heavy industry at
all costs caused significant environmental problems. Air and water
pollution went unchecked. Despite the scarcity of traffic, a pall
of diesel fumes lingered over the country's main roads, a by-product
of the poorly refined fuel that powered Albania's trucks and buses.
The Elbasan Steel Combine, Albania's largest industrial complex,
represented a typical industrial polluter. Proclaimed a symbol
of Albania's "second liberation" when it became operational in
1966, the steelworks was equipped with 1950s-vintage Chinese furnaces
that filled the Shkumbin River valley with smoke, poisonous gases,
and orange-colored particulate. The cyanic acid, ammonia, phenol,
and other pollutants that the mill dumped into the river itself
rendered it practically lifeless. A United Nations team recommended
closing the facility because of the pollution problem.
Data as of April 1992