6 May 2011, 19:10

Arctic clean-up on plans

Arctic clean-up on plans

Dr Vladimir Sokolov is an environment expert at the St Petersburg-based Institute of the Arctic and the Antarctic: "For a number of decades, this country’s exploration and development work in the High Arctic relied on aviation. There are now millions of steel fuel drums all along the Arctic coast, in every spot where the Soviets operated an airfield.

Dr Vladimir Sokolov is an environment expert at the St Petersburg-based Institute of the Arctic and the Antarctic:

"For a number of decades, this country’s exploration and development work in the High Arctic relied on aviation. There are now millions of steel fuel drums all along the Arctic coast, in every spot where the Soviets operated an airfield. Many of these rusting drums are still half-full. Leaving them where they are spells massive damage to the Arctic environment. A clean-up is on plans, at a cost of at least 10 billion euros."

"As the Arctic warms up and new technologies come on stream, more and more new development projects come into consideration. They include, among other things, oil, gas and minerals in the Barents and the Kara Seas and in the Arctic belts of Western, Central and Northeastern Siberia. The impact on the fragile Arctic environment has to be foreseen and contained."

Dr Alexei Kokorin coordinates climate and energy programmes at the Russia branch of the Worldwide Fund for Nature:

"The Arctic ecosystem is noted for its exceptional fragility. A spill of one hundredth of that in the Gulf of Mexico would create an ocean-wide toxic sheen lasting for many decades. Removing it would require technologies that are yet to be developed."

"Unfortunately, not all Arctic powers share this country’s concern for the Arctic environment. Persuading them to come on board is vital for keeping the Arctic productive and clean."

The matter is going before the 2nd international Arctic Dialogue Forum in the Russian White Sea port of Arkhangelsk in September this year. The agenda will also include infrastructural improvement of the cost-saving Northeast Passage from Western Europe to East Asia, along the Arctic coast of Siberia.

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