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Hanging in the air: Primorye suffocating from coal dust

The prosecutor's office opened a criminal case on air pollution and water areas in Nakhodka

Coal dust continues to pollute the ports of the Far East. People living nearby complain about smog, the inability to breathe calmly and dry clothes on the street. The problem is especially acute in Primorye, where 17 out of 26 stevedoring companies work. The prosecutor’s office continues to check and has already opened criminal proceedings.

Hanging in the air: Primorye suffocating from coal dust


Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor Vitaly Kaplunov and his deputies held a press conference in Vladivostok on the observance of the rights of Primorye residents when transshipping coal with stevedoring companies. Vladimir Putin instructed the ministry to check the sanitary and environmental safety of the seaport of Nakhodka in Primorye, after in 2017 the problem was raised on a “direct line” with the president.

“Indeed, Primorsky Krai is under the special control of the President of the Russian Federation and the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. We pay special attention to this. There are 26 stevedoring companies in the Far Eastern Federal District, 17 of them in the Primorsky Territory. Although there are problems both in Sakhalin, and in Magadan, in Chukotka, in the Khabarovsk Territory, ”Kaplunov noted.

According to him, after the checks, two criminal cases were opened on the fact of pollution of the atmosphere and water area with coal dust in Nakhodka and Vostochny port.

“The case was initiated on the fact of pollution of the marine environment. Samples were taken, it was found that marine resources were contaminated, an examination was conducted, the case was under investigation. On control with us. Samples were taken in the influence zone of several stevedores in the Nakhodka city district, ”said Igor Pakhomov, head of the department for the supervision of the implementation of laws on transport at the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor’s Office.

According to him, the criminal case on the fact of atmospheric air pollution due to an increase in the concentration of pollutants in almost the entire territory of Nakhodka has now been suspended. The prosecutor's office confirmed the facts of pollution, but it is difficult to establish which of the stevedores is guilty of pollution.

“The source of origin has not been established, since stevedores are located very close, and coal is transshipped of the same grade,” Pakhomov noted.



Nakhodka actively talked about the environmental problem in 2017, when local ports began to work more actively after a sharp increase in coal exports to the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Over the past three years, the Nakhodka Transport Prosecutor made more than 60 submissions, 45 lawsuits were sent to the court. In relation to the guilty legal and official persons, more than 130 cases of administrative offenses were opened.

“In Nakhodka, all 12 stevedoring companies did not use equipment to reduce the harmful effects on the air, conducted activities without established sanitary protection zones, and did not take measures to protect water bodies from pollution. Cases of non-implementation of industrial environmental control, emissions of harmful substances into the atmospheric air with exceeding the maximum permissible norms, without permits, using unaccounted sources of air pollution have been identified. The coal storage areas were not equipped with special retaining and dimensional walls, the technology of coal transshipment and storage was violated, which contributed to the distribution of dust outside the production sites, ”the prosecutor noted.

Not only Nakhodka suffers from coal dust in Primorye - stevedores in Vladivostok (PJSC Vladivostok Sea Trade Port, Vostokmorservis OJSC, Vladivostok Sea Fishing Port OJSC), and the Posyet port of the Khasansky District (Torgovy JSC) are engaged in coal transshipment in the region. Posyet port ”) and in the Shkotovsky district (Port Vera LLC LLC). There, prosecutors discovered violations during the transshipment of coal are the same as in Nakhodka. The court sent lawsuits to eliminate the violations identified, prosecutors made appropriate submissions.

The prosecutor’s office made a submission regarding Port Vera LLC after checking the pollution of the water area and air with coal dust. Administrative proceedings against a legal entity were instituted in three formulations. The prosecutor's office has claims against the stevedore regarding the use of dust suppression equipment, according to their actual activities, by the decision that is laid down in the documentation and which received an expert opinion. There are questions about the availability and operation of treatment facilities.

At the same time, in February Rosprirodnadzor fined Port Vera LLC for a total amount of 500 thousand rubles for violations of the coal loading schedule and deviations from the requirements of project documentation. The reason for the verification was the appeal of Primorye residents and information on coal dust that appeared on the Internet near the port.

According to Igor Pakhomov, head of the department for supervision of the enforcement of laws on transport at the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor’s Office, the company’s management is ready to correct mistakes. It held a meeting with the prosecutor's office and local residents to resolve conflict issues. In April, the stevedore plans to commission the car dumper, and in June intends to complete the installation of more than half a kilometer of windproof structures.

At the same time, the transport prosecutor’s office continues to verify compliance by the stevedore company with the rules for loading coal in the commercial port of Posyet. Specialists of the territorial bodies of Rosprirodnadzor and Rospotrebnadzor were involved in the work. They took on the stevedore after posting on social networks a video from the village of Posyet. The frames showed black dust in the port area and the window sills of the apartment house covered with it. The intermediate results of the audit showed that in the area of ​​influence of stevedoring companies, excess concentrations of pollutants were detected.



Nevertheless, the situation in Primorye is improving, and this is said, including in the transport prosecutor's office. According to the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor Vitaliy Kaplunov, the number of complaints about coal dust from local residents has decreased several times in the region, sensors that monitor pollution show a smaller number of excess concentrations of dust.

“There is a positive trend. Some work more efficiently, others less. The implementation of environmental measures is associated with financial conditions. By 2021, we will restore order; we must fulfill the president’s order. We do not guarantee, but we will try, ”Vitaliy Kaplunov told reporters.

Stevedors themselves are also talking about reducing complaints from residents and improving the environmental situation. One of the largest stevedoring companies in the region, Vostochny Port JSC, spends 2,5 billion rubles a year on environmental programs that help to see the result. 

“We have modern treatment facilities. The results of the work were announced by the Far Eastern Transport Prosecutor at a press conference, complaints from local residents have decreased several times and have become isolated, "a representative of Vostochny Port JSC told EastRussia.

Stevedores try to update equipment, go to closed transhipment and use the experience of neighboring countries - Japan and South Korea, similar to Primorye in climate. So, for example, they acted in the “Astafiev Terminal”.

“Last year, a closed-type conveyor line was installed at the enterprise, eliminating the contact of coal when moving it around the territory. Also, when loading coal into the hold of a vessel, a telescopic loading machine is used. At the moment, at the "Astafyev Terminal", installation of a covered canopy over the area for unloading coal from cars and closed storage warehouses has begun. Work will go together with specialists from the Japanese company Marubeni. The entire territory of the enterprise is fenced with a two-level contour of dust and dust shields, two dozen snow cannons and a Centurion dust collector are constantly working, ”the press service of the stevedore“ Terminal Astafyeva ”said. 

Earlier, the Governor of Primorye, Oleg Kozhemyako, said that the work of stevedores in the region, who would not switch to closed coal transshipment in 2020, would be stopped. However, prosecutors explained to reporters that the concept of “closed transshipment of coal” does not exist in law. The Ministry of Transport believes that there is no need to consolidate this term, since the measures applied are sufficient.


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