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.
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