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Breathe. Do not breathe. Exhale!

How to solve the main environmental problems of the Far East

Experts recognize: in the Far Eastern Federal Districts, the environmental situation has remained one of the most dysfunctional in the country for many years. Around the places where people live in the Far East, everywhere is a pristine nature, hence the problems. EastRussia understood why the solution of many environmental issues in the east of the country has not yet been able to not only proceed, but at least to approach.

Breathe. Do not breathe. Exhale!

В ecological rating, compiled by the public all-Russian organization "Green Patrol", the Far Eastern regions are far from high positions, and hence from environmental well-being. In the ranking at the end of the spring of 2018 from the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, the highest place - 11th - belongs to the Magadan Region. At the same time, its positions "grew" by two points compared to the previous period (in winter the region was 13th). Chukotka and Kamchatka, on the contrary, slightly dropped in the ranking (by 3 and 1 points, respectively) and took 26 and 29 places. Well, the rest of the "Far East" regions can be attributed to outsiders. Sakhalin Region - 57th out of 85 possible, Primorsky Krai - 61st, Khabarovsk - 63rd. Yakutia and Amur region took 67th and 68th places, respectively. And the Jewish Autonomous Region was included in the ten worst in the country in terms of environmental conditions and was in 76th place.

As the compilers of the rating note, this alignment stably holds for a long time - the situation, in fact, does not change since the rating was generally drawn up. When it is formed, in particular, data are taken into account on the main enterprises - polluters of the environment, on the costs of environmental measures in the region, on life expectancy. We also take into account the events that took place during the period, following which a rating is made. For example, excerpts from the "Chronicle of events" in the Primorsky Territory: mass fish, forest fires, rally against open coal transshipment, pollution of reservoirs with oil products are mentioned ... It is not surprising that the final place of Primorye in the rating turned out to be extremely low.

 - The rating is formed not only on the basis of official reports, publications in the media or state statistics on the volume and nature of emissions and various kinds of emergency, but also on the basis of complaints from residents of the regions coming to us, - says EastRussia Roman Pukalov, director of environmental programs of the Green Patrol ". - And in the Far East, frankly, there is little good news. In the Jewish Autonomous Region, in particular, the main stream of complaints is related to deforestation. We evaluate both the adequacy and efficiency of the authorities' response to complaints from people - and in this case it is zero. And the environmental responsibility of business. I will say that, by and large, there are no serious investments in environmental protection from industrial companies operating in the Far Eastern Federal District. There is no progress either. However, and deterioration too. As it was confidently bad, so confidently it remains bad. There is a feeling of protracted stagnation, accompanied by the plundering of natural resources. At the same time, there are regions in Russia in which colossal progress in this area has recently been observed - which means that it is real to change the situation, there would be a desire. Although the conditional "five" according to the results of our research can not be given to anyone.

Ecological problems of the Far East, of course, for no one is a secret. For the federal authorities as well. So, in the beginning of July the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolay Patrushev held a meeting in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky with the heads of the Far Eastern regions on issues of environmental safety and rational nature management. As Patrushev said at the meeting, "the nature of non-compliance by economic entities with the norms of environmental legislation, the low level of ecological culture" becomes a threatening character. " According to his data, no more than 15% of wastewater is purified in the DFO. Consequence - strong pollution of reservoirs of aluminum, copper, zinc and phenols. Requirements for sanitary legislation are not met every sixth source of drinking water in the Far Eastern Federal District.

The Secretary of the Security Council especially noted the situation in the "coal" ports in Nakhodka and Vanino - there is an extremely high level of air pollution, marine areas and soil. In general, Patrushev stressed, 18% of the urban population in the district breathe air, which increases the content of harmful substances, and accumulated more than 630 million tons of waste in the Far Eastern Federal District.

"Painful points" of the ecological situation in the Far East are indicated. But what is being done so that they do not exist?

Roman Pukalov says: the largest number of complaints (and not only in the Far East, but also throughout Russia) goes to the "Green Patrol" from the Primorsky Territory - from Nakhodka. Complaints about open coal transfer at local terminals to the organization come weekly. The city suffocates, says Pukalov.

Once upon a time, Nakhodka was an "ecological oasis", one of the cleanest cities in Russia. Now in the port of Nakhodka at five coal terminals several private companies are shipping coal from the Kuzbass and sending it for export. This "activity", along with coal storage, stretching for several kilometers, made life in the city unbearable. Above the find hangs a coal smog, which is visible even from outer space, in winter black snow falls in these places, and coal dust penetrates into the houses of the inhabitants.
People wrote to many instances, went out to protest, but things moved more or less from the deadlock when, on last year's "straight line" with the president, a schoolchild from Nakhodka, Andrei Pain, told what is happening in the city.

However, to say that the situation in Nakhodka changed rapidly and radically after the presidential instructions, it is still impossible. The coal mines still dusted, and in the spring of this year the Pacific Maritime Administration of Rosprirodnadzor was forced to suspend the work of one of the coal terminals with the wording "for carrying out work to reload coal in the absence of permits for emissions of harmful substances into the atmospheric air."

In the spring, representatives of regional and city authorities and heads of coal companies entered into an agreement on environmental protection measures and, in particular, on the gradual termination of coal transshipment in the open way. Nine enterprises that signed the document committed themselves to completely switch to closed coal transshipment by 2020. Until that time, they will invest more than 1,5 billion rubles in comprehensive environmental protection measures in the Nakhodka urban district. In turn, the acting head of the region, Andrei Tarasenko, promised, together with the supervisory authorities, to suspend the work of companies that would not be able to offer effective measures to protect against air pollution by coal dust.

Now work in this regard is going on - in particular, at Cape Astafyev in the Nakhodkinsky sea trading port windproof dust screens and a stationary dust suppression system are installed. These objects will cost stevedore at 150 million rubles.

Similar work goes on other terminals. In total, as the EastRussia was informed by the press service of the regional government, the companies purchased 30 dust suppression systems and nine units of special equipment, installed about two kilometers of dustproof screens.

However, the residents of Nakhodka consider: it is still too early to speak about concrete results of such measures.

 “It’s premature about the effectiveness of the measures that coal stevedores have begun,” said EastRussia Artyom Trembovlev, president of the Primorsky regional public organization for promoting the protection of human rights and cultural heritage “Nadezhda”. - It's summer now, the humidity is high, there is a lot of vegetation, and the wind direction is such that coal dust almost does not get into residential areas. Actually, every summer it is. And in winter the situation changes dramatically, and the city is completely covered with coal dust. And this happens every year. Now we see that all stevedoring companies have windscreens and water cannons installed, but how effective all this is will become clear only in the fall.

Now, public officials, in addition, are waiting for the results of scientific research, which would give an objective assessment of the impact of coal terminals on the environment. It turns out that these studies either were not at all, or they were kept under the seal "secretly".  

- There was no research, although the public insisted on carrying it out. Recently, the governor gave a corresponding order to one of the specialized institutes, it is expected that in the fall we will learn about the results of these studies, - says Artem Trembovlev. - And while they are gone, we can only believe our eyes and, for example, notice the huge areas covered with a coal film both in the sea and on the coast. When the results of the examination appear, we will use them, among other things, for legal proceedings, if necessary. But in general, what is happening now is simply outrageous. The companies started building treatment facilities, which will be ready in 2-3 years. But until they are built, industrial waste will continue to be thrown into the air and into the sea. I think: stop work, build structures, and then continue working. This is exactly what happens all over the world. Only we have the opposite.

At the same time Artem Trembovlev believes: The find will be saved.

- Last year, after the public came out to the rallies, our problem was widely discussed, we took it to the federal level. It took several months for concrete measures to be taken. But now, you can say, the flywheel is started, gained momentum, and now it is clear that the problem will be solved unequivocally.

Another problem, although far from new to the Far East, has become widely known relatively recently.

This summer, the Satellite Monitoring and Civil Control Center, together with the international coalition Rivers without Borders, with the support of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-Russia), received satellite imagery from three Russian regions - the Krasnoyarsk and Zabaikalsky Krais and the Amur Region. The pictures show: the water bodies there are heavily polluted because of the work of gold mining companies. And in the Amur region the situation can be called critical.

Satellite monitoring was conducted after numerous complaints of local residents. "From the ground" you can not see everything. But space images helped to determine the magnitude of the disaster. According to Alexander Kolotov, the Russian coordinator of the international coalition "Rivers without Borders", speaking specifically about the Amur region, there, as of the beginning of June, pollution of the Unakha river was detected over 90 kilometers, up to its confluence with the Zeya reservoir. The Iliqan River was polluted by more than 70 kilometers. According to Kolotov, the production of alluvial gold (by the way, banned in many countries) is the most common source of negative impacts on water bodies in the Amur basin, comparable to the magnitude of the impact of HPPs and the infrastructure of settlements. In the Amur basin, the expert notes, the negative effects of placer gold mining affected the territory of 4200 square kilometers, 13 000 kilometers of river network.

The Zeysk interdistrict department of the Amur territorial administration of Rosrybolovstvo supported the activities of environmentalists and confirmed: violations by gold miners are massive and disastrous for nature.

“During the raids, in 2017, 222 cases of administrative offenses were initiated based on established facts of negative impact on the environment (including 13 cases against legal entities). 148 administrative cases have been initiated against the violators whose activities are related to the development of alluvial gold deposits, the department says. - The consequences of the activities of unscrupulous gold miners will have a negative impact on the spawning grounds, which will be destroyed due to siltation. Fuel and lubricants from polluted water protection zones will be washed off by rains into the river for many years, having a negative impact on the inhabitants of water bodies. All repair sites should be outside the water protection zone of water bodies. However, in practice, with rare exceptions, one can observe the same picture: in the immediate vicinity of rivers and streams there is a repairing technique, and everything around is flooded with oil products, there are no approved technical projects on the work sites, in accordance with which the work should be carried out " ... 

In the interdistrict department of the Federal Agency for Fisheries also give concrete examples.

The Maristyi enterprise developed a deposit on the Verny stream (a tributary of the Djalta River, which is in turn the right tributary of the Ilikan River). “On dump trucks, the rock was brought from the Verny stream and washed on the Djalta river. The industrial device was installed on the river bank, water for washing the rock was supplied directly from the river bed ... There were no filtration sedimentation tanks, the river from the device downstream was heavily contaminated with suspended particles, ”the department explains.

The company "Dambuka Dredge" on the Iliqan River, experts say, mined gold with project violations, while the water protection zone was heavily polluted with heavily used oil products. Employees of the Fishing Division found their spills on the shore of Ilikan. Were lodged nearby and the barrels of oil products: their remains flowed to the ground.
Rosprirodnadzor in the Amur region this summer conducted an audit of the described facts (note: conducted for the first time!). Violators will be taken measures.

"This year we worked for the Amur Region for the first time, and we are glad that we received a prompt response from the regional Rosprirodnadzor," says Alexander Kolotov. - At the same time, dozens of complaints from residents of the region continue to come to us. I will say directly: in the Amur region in this regard, the situation is awful. The problem of barbaric gold mining has matured and overhauled. But the fact is that the current legislation actually unties the hands of unscrupulous gold miners. So, Rosprirodnadzor can not come to them for sampling without warning - and for two or three days the prospectors will have time to "clean up" everything for themselves. In addition, artels often work in remote, inaccessible areas. But even if the gold miners are caught in the deed, the case will reach the court, and the court will impose punishment on them - what will it be for punishment? Fines well, let the tens of thousands of rubles. For gold miners, it's nothing. That is, these companies have no economic incentive to improve their activities. But I repeat: the fact that the regional Rosprirodnadzor reacted quickly to the information provided by us is a very good, encouraging sign.

Now much is said about large-scale deforestation in Russia, primarily in the Far East and Eastern Siberia. But felling, which is conducted on an industrial scale, how to treat them, it is easy to control, not that the activity of numerous sawmills. Production wastes - that is sawdust - they do not dispose of as they are supposed to do (and often they do not have to be disposed of and there are no special polygons), but they are simply burned. And from this the settlements are choked, next to which are the sawmills.

This problem was touched, for example, by the inhabitants of the settlements of Limestone and Berezovye in the Khabarovsk Territory.

Ekaterina Drobot, a resident of Lime, a deputy of the Padalino village council, says: the residents of the village have been choking for eight or nine years. Since then, the sawmill began to work in their places.

- The division of the company "DV-Maximum Plus" is working next to us. Its founders are Chinese citizens, and their head office is in Khabarovsk. We tried to get out on them, ask them to solve the situation, but they do not go to the contact, - Catherine says. - We wrote complaints to law enforcement bodies, to the prosecutor's office. Infringements there recognized, like for some time work of the enterprise have suspended, territory have enclosed, the watchman have put. And now everything is working anew. And sawdust also burns. We are suffocating. And do not see, it happens, each other a few meters away. Those who live near the sawmill live on, linen can not be hung on the street - it turns black in a day.

Ekaterina Drobot says: since the inhabitants of Limestones took up their right to breathe normal air, it means they will try to bring the matter to an end and achieve its goal.

I want to believe, of course, that this will happen, and that experts will have fewer reasons to talk about the Far East as a territory where "everything is long and confidently bad" when compiling the next environmental rating.
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