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Emergencies of colossal proportions

Whose fault did Primorye find itself in an ice trap?

A week and a half has passed since the freezing rain fell in Primorye, paralyzing the life of the region. Until now, in some areas, including in Vladivostok, there are interruptions in power supply and communication, the heat supply regime is being maintained with great difficulty. One official has already been dismissed for inaction, and the head of Vladivostok has also received a proposal from the prosecutor's office.

Emergencies of colossal proportions


During the first day of the arrival of the cyclone, in some municipalities of the Primorsky Territory, from 2,5 to three monthly precipitation rates fell. Meteorologists recorded an extremely high thickness of icing on wires and trees - up to 12 mm. According to the head of Primhydromet Boris Kubai, this has not been observed in the region for the past 30 years.

On the evening of November 19, the layers of the atmosphere in the region were mixed. While the cold air from the north accumulated near the ground, a warm rain poured down from above from the cyclone, which came as usual from the south. During the night, all surfaces were covered with a strong ice crust up to two cm thick. It looked both beautiful and menacing. In the morning frost struck, which held the ice together. On the northeastern coast of Primorye, in the wild and cold Terneisky region, such natural phenomena, although rarely, do occur. People who have lived in Vladivostok for 50 years say that this has never happened.

Power lines in the region were cut off, trees were badly damaged, roads became unsuitable for driving, and many cars were dented. During the passage of the cyclone in the city, 235 damages were recorded on the wires, 93 broken metal poles of outdoor lighting cannot be restored.

Today Vladivostok resembles a city that survived the bombing: ice blocks of various sizes, falling from above, destroyed everything, including the plafonds of street lamps. The satellite city of the capital of Primorye - Artem, where there was no electricity for five days, also suffered greatly. An emergency regime was introduced in both cities. Then this regime was extended to the entire region.

The Ministry of Emergency Situations, the military, and the Pacific Fleet were involved in solving the problems. The situation really resembled a military one: field kitchens worked in Vladivostok, the supply of drinking and industrial water was organized, temporary accommodation centers were opened, where citizens were provided with heating, water, food and even the help of psychologists.


There is still no electricity in some areas. Russky Island, where the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University is located, is virtually isolated. The fact is that the shrouds of the bridge leading to the island from the mainland are frozen over, and they are located above the bridge itself. Transport links had to be blocked so that no one was hurt by flying ice floes.

Industrial climbers clean the bridge to Russky Island by hand. According to the head of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, Alexei Chekunkov, it will not be possible to act differently now - such a high cable-stayed bridge has never been iced up in the world, so Vladivostok's experience in fighting ice at the crossing is the first.

Due to the fact that transport links with Russkom were suspended, problems with food arose on the island, and the electricity supply there was fully restored only on November 30. Students are supplied at the very least, but the natives have a hard time.

The worst situation with the restoration of electricity was in the Pervomaisky district of Vladivostok. There was no light and communication there for several days due to the fact that the worn out power transmission towers located at the Marine Cemetery collapsed.        


Now opinions about who is to blame are divided, but the punishment has already followed. The Governor of the Primorsky Territory Oleg Kozhemyako dismissed the head of the administrative-territorial administration of the Russky Island from his post due to an irresponsible attitude to his duties during an emergency. According to the head of the region, the official did not carry out any work on organizing assistance to the population, for a week she was not seen or heard.

The inaction of the Vladivostok authorities was announced by the prosecutor's office. The head of the city has already been introduced.

“The improper maintenance by the city administration of engineering infrastructure facilities, the non-updating of the list of reserve and autonomous power supply sources in case of emergencies led to inconsistent actions by the operational headquarters of Vladivostok and a delay in the process of connecting facilities to utilities,” the regional prosecutor’s office said.

They also reported that the municipality left without due attention the issues of organizing uninterrupted power supply to the inhabitants of Popov Island. At the same time, the issue of building power supply facilities on the island territory has not been resolved for a long time.

Anatoly Dolgachev, head of the Primorsky branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and deputy of the Legislative Assembly, himself lives in the most affected Pervomaisky district of Vladivostok. He remained without electricity, water and heat for six days, and believes that the city officials and electricians are most to blame for what happened, who were not ready for such consequences of the disaster.

“Someone compared the situation with the 90s, but then they turned off, and then gave the light - at least for a few hours a day, and did not turn off the power for a week. In other countries, the National Guard would be involved in solving problems and everyone who is possible, for some reason only the Ministry of Emergency Situations was able to cope with us. As for the city administration, I would advise (if possible) to add up your salaries and pay the sun, which melted the ice a little for a while. I didn't really feel how the mayor's office worked. The same field kitchens could hardly help much. The governor was more active and dealt with the problems of Vladivostok point-wise, although this was not his direct task. Power engineers turned out to be simply not ready for such a situation, although the coastal climate implies that such cataclysms are possible. Still, Vladivostok is not Sochi. And today (I'm not talking about such a luxury as the Internet), there is still no electricity in some houses of the Pervomaisky District. "   

The deputy of the regional Legislative Assembly, Andrei Ishchenko, on the contrary, is sure that thanks to the joint efforts of utilities, power engineers, regional and city executive and representative branches of government, it was possible to achieve a result.

“Work on the damaged power line was carried out at an accelerated pace. Gradually, the supply of cold, hot water, heating was resumed, money was promptly allocated to eliminate the consequences of emergencies. Today the city is full of light, the problems remain only on the Russian island. I hope that we have all made the right conclusions and this situation will not happen again, ”said the deputy.


The fact that the situation is stalemate also indicates that it is closely monitored at the federal level. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin sent the new head of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, Alexei Chekunkov, to work at the emergency site.

“It is too early to draw any conclusions, but at first glance, the problem lies in the discrepancy between the infrastructural provision of Russky Island and those organizations that deal with it, and indeed of the whole of Vladivostok. Now we will solve the crisis problem, then we need to systematically strengthen the protection of Vladivostok's infrastructure, ”Chekunkov said.

According to the minister, after returning to Moscow, he will turn to the head of the Ministry of Energy Nikolai Shulginov to improve the quality of power supply to Vladivostok and Primorye.

According to the general director of CJSC Marine Engineering Company Yuri Rybalkin, the problems with power supply are related to those that it is in private hands, and the current owners do not invest the necessary funds in major repairs and maintenance of the networks.

“The pillars that fell stood for one hundred years, no one touched. Metal tends to rust, corrode, structures become thinner, "Rybalkin noted.

The head of the Chkalovsky rural settlement, Vsevolod Iyu, believes that the problem lies in the departure from Soviet standards.

“For a decade, I have been engaged in cutting trees near power lines, as it should be. Therefore, my settlement survived the emergency without any problems, ”said Vsevolod Iyu.

Valentin Anikeev, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences, a member of the Union of Architects of Russia, an honorary resident of the Primorsky Territory, points out that there was a force majeure, so there is no particular point in looking for the culprits.

“This situation is not foreseen, non-standard. Nature teaches that we do not consider certain things enough. The building codes are written in the blood of the victims, ”the expert notes.

In his opinion, power outages could not be avoided, with the exception of objects that are classified in the first category of sustainability - power plants, pumping stations. Hospitals must have diesel generators, but as the current situation has shown, not everywhere there is such a necessary luxury. As a result, generators were transported to Primorye from Moscow and neighboring regions.

As Valentin Anikeev notes, when designing the construction of facilities, norms are taken into account, which imply the likelihood of emergency situations, for example, flooding. However, in practice, unfortunately, such standards are not always taken into account. According to the town planner, the designers of the bridges to the Russky Island and across the Golden Horn laid the likelihood of a cataclysm in Vladivostok - "which is an indicator that not a single cable was cut off."      

The damage from freezing rain in Primorye has already exceeded 290 million rubles. The greatest damage was inflicted on energy facilities - over 250 million rubles. Now the amount of costs continues to grow. The head of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, Alexei Chekunkov, said that the region needs 640 million rubles to recover from a cyclone. The money is needed to restore power lines, cables and maintain the operation of diesel generators. The Kremlin called the damage caused by bad weather in Primorye colossal.

The situation reminded once again that the sleds need to be prepared in the summer. After the freezing rain, the authorities of Primorye provided additional funding in the draft budget for 2021 and 2022 to eliminate the possible consequences of natural disasters and emergencies. The amount will be 100 million rubles per year. Other regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, looking at a neighbor, began to take inventory of equipment in case of emergency.

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