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The Far East, which has become the main transport corridor between Russia and Asia, is increasingly exposed to anthropogenic impact, which affects the region's water and marine resources
- What is the ecological condition of the waters of the Far East today and what are the main sources of their pollution?
- The ecological state of the waters is extremely deplorable. Land waters are more polluted than seas. We know that the Aral Sea has come to an ecological disaster, the eastern half of the lake has disappeared. We have a similar situation with Lake Khanka. Its level has already dropped by several meters compared to what it was 100-150 years ago, when the Russian people came to its coast. The lake is already shallow - the average depth is less than 3 meters, and the maximum depth is about 10 meters, although this is the largest freshwater reservoir in the Russian Far East. Its depletion goes through evaporation and water withdrawal for irrigation of fields. As a result, the water level falls, which means that everything that used to live on the ground, which used to be under water, simply freezes in winter - all mollusks, all bottom animals die. Therefore, the food base is destroyed, because of this, and the fish becomes less.
A similar situation with marine ponds. In Primorye, the most affected are the Amur Bay and the Nakhodka Gulf. In the latter, there are more than a dozen enterprises that deal with the transshipment of dangerous goods: coal, mineral fertilizers, cement, ore concentrates that enter the bay. Here is the oil port of Kozmino, where oil spills occur from time to time. So far, they are not catastrophic, but in fact it is difficult to say what and in what scale it occurs, as the territory is fenced. If the plant is to be built also for an 30 million tons of chemical fertilizers, which will produce the strongest poisons, then the production of conditionally treated water will flow into the bay, and this will not make things worse for everyone who lives there.
In the Gulf of Nakhodka, there was not a single bay, where the mariculture industry and farms would remain. All the enterprises that exist there and are engaged in the transshipment of dangerous goods are concentrated in a small bay. Plus, many ports, which means that approaches to the berths should have greater depth for large ships. Dredging is being done, and the oozy soil that is being removed is dumped nearby and there is no life left in its place. Over several years, the ecosystem can gradually recover, but the bottom is deepened regularly, which does not allow biota to regenerate completely. That is, it is - the complete destruction of all living things.
The critical situation in the Far East is mainly observed in Primorye, because this region is a transit corridor for transshipment of various kinds of raw materials - oil, oil products, gas, coal, ore concentrates, cement, mineral fertilizers. In other regions of the DFO there are problems, least of all in Chukotka - there are no special sources of pollution. On Sakhalin and Kamchatka, all dangerous goods are transported just through Primorye, so again this region suffers most. Plus the load on the water here is uneven - all production is concentrated in the south.
- Is an ecological catastrophe threatening the region?
- It is not necessary to speak about the entire Far East in the context of an environmental disaster, because there are both Kamchatka and Chukotka, whose waters are almost not exposed to man-made impacts. But there are separate places of the Far Eastern Federal District, where an ecological catastrophe is possible - these are industrial areas: southern Primorye or northeastern Sakhalin, where oil is extracted on the shelf. Everyone forgets that this area is extremely seismic, which is proved by the tragedy of Neftegorsk. This zone is not the least unfavorable for oil and gas production, because the Sea of Okhotsk is freezing, the mobile thick ice keeps for almost half a year, it always storms. There are more severe conditions compared, for example, with the Gulf of Mexico, where, nevertheless, a catastrophe occurred, and the entire northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, up to Europe, felt the impact - the oil train stretched for thousands of kilometers. And on Sakhalin this danger due to climatic conditions is even higher. Oil film after the release of thousands of cubic meters of oil - an environmental disaster, because birds, fish, bottom inhabitants, mammals are massively killed. Such a catastrophe is possible in the area of northeastern Sakhalin. All the Sea of Okhotsk is connected with oil and gas production, so here the ecological crisis is only a matter of time.
Now in the area of the Posyet port to 60% in some soil samples is pure coal, which was washed off from the piers. Coal is 3-4 hazard classes. In Primorye, on Sakhalin appeared coal beaches, and so - wherever its extraction and transshipment takes place. Plus, oil products, getting to the water surface, eventually concentrate around small objects - dead crustaceans, fish larvae, - and settle to the bottom. And at the bottom they are "collected", for example, trepangs, who do not understand what gets into their mouths. After they have absorbed, they either perish, or they have different kinds of ugliness.
- Do current laws and regulations cope with water pollution?
- The Far East is a region that probably has the richest flora and fauna in Russia. If you take, for example, Moscow, there is no such thing of all this, and the laws relating to the protection of the sea do not concern the center. Therefore, the initiative to create legal acts should come precisely from the authorities of the region, but there are a lot of obstacles: all maritime areas are federal property. That is, local authorities can make some laws with the permission of Moscow, but it is not particularly necessary for it.
The new laws pass through the Duma very hard. As an example: the history of the aquaculture law is more than 20 years old, and when it was finally accepted, it turned out that it was not suitable for mariculture, because it was based not on local developments, but on Moscow projects. The law is suitable for freshwater reservoirs, but not for the sea. There was an instruction on fish farming, and not the law on aquaculture, the more marine. Unfortunately, now there are no laws that could protect water bodies and allow somehow to restore the disturbed ecological balance.
- Just a few days ago, the expedition of Rosatom to study the extent of the impact of the Fukushima accident on the condition of the waters and marine inhabitants of the region was completed. What do you think are the forecasts for the spread and deposition of radionuclides in the Sea of Japan? How much does this disaster in the future affect the state of water and marine life?
- The fact that the expedition is organized by Rosatom, says that this is an expedition of interested persons. The main task here is to show that everything is fine there. In general, the main problem is that the Japanese do not admit close to Fukushima, therefore, Rosatom specialists worked far from the accident site. But the depth there is 4-5 kilometers, plus the vast expanses of the open ocean, so the wastewater from Fukushima quickly dissolves in large volumes of seawater, and these few tons are so low that it is impossible to find something.
As for the Sea of Japan, radionuclides began to appear here immediately after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They are in the sediments, we consume them with fish. The Chernobyl accident also added radiation, and today there is already radiation from Fukushima. These radionuclides are fresh, there are probably a lot of them. In the Sea of Japan, they fell with atmospheric precipitation, when the emission of isotopes occurred during an accident. Also, radiation enters here with currents. And since the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to exist, this question remains open, and it is difficult to say how things can end. Radiation is spread all over the Far East through the biota, through migrating animals and birds, so we must constantly monitor the situation - to check the fish that is caught near the South Kurils, near Hokkaido.
- What measures need to be taken to combat water pollution, and how realistic is it to stop this global process?
- Considering that the government pays serious attention to the development of the region, it is necessary to create an institute for environmental problems of the Far East, which we do not have, but there are similar ones in all serious industrial regions - in Togliatti and in Western Siberia. If such an institution existed, it would provide expert assessments and determine the areas that must be protected from industrial impact, for example, because of spawning of crabs or habitat of endangered species of animals. This institution can be purely virtual, but if its studies are funded, it will be possible to partially solve the problems of water pollution. Otherwise, without such integration, all scientists, alone engaged in the ecology of the sea in the Far East, fight like fish on the ice.
Pollution of the seas is an irreversible process. It goes at such a rate that it is impossible to clean the water. However, it is possible to prevent the growth of pollution. At least start with treatment facilities. But the effect of those that are built in the same Primorsky Territory, will be only when the quality of water after treatment will be on par with water quality in similar facilities in Japan. There, the water is tested using a conventional fish tank, which is located in the office of the director of the treatment complex, and the head himself drinks this water, checking the quality of cleaning on himself. We have few filtration stages at the treatment facilities, plus volley discharges are periodically conducted, which are difficult to track, and if the perpetrators are caught by the hand, the whole story ends with a miserable fine.