10 October 2011, 17:48

Russia to clean up its polluted Arctic region

Russia to clean up its polluted Arctic region

Russia has launched a cleaning up operation in its Arctic region. A programme to revive Franz Josef Land is being worked out following an expedition to the archipelago. Moreover, Russia will allocate 10 million Euros to the Arctic Council for supporting cleaning up projects in the Polar Region in 2011-2013.

Russia has launched a cleaning up operation in its Arctic region. A programme to revive Franz Josef Land is being worked out following an expedition to the archipelago. Moreover, Russia will allocate 10 million Euros to the Arctic Council for supporting cleaning up projects in the Polar Region in 2011-2013.

Franz Josef Land is one of the key Arctic territories that need urgent ecological support for cleaning up hazardous waste. Earlier, there were a military base and a hydro-meteorological station, but at present the territory is a huge garbage dump site. Semi-destroyed warehouses, hangers, machines and equipment and about 400,000 barrels of oil products remind of active life that existed in the 60s and 70s. The barrels will be removed first because some of them have rusted and oil has been leaking into the soil. Further destruction of containers poses a serious and chronic threat to the environment.

After a geological and ecological survey, a complete list of pollutants and locations of polluted territories and their floor spaces have been prepared. New information as well as the results of previous expeditions will help to work out a programme on the ecological revival of the islands, says an official of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Olga Burkanova:

“The removal of the sources of pollution will be carried out first and foremost in 2012-2013. Moreover, other projects will be simultaneously implemented to clean up the polluted territories on Wrangel Island in the Chukotka Autonomous region and also in the Nenets Autonomous region. It’s planned to dispose about 27,000 tons of scrap metal in the next two years.

The Russian government will spend about 50 million U.S. dollars to clean up ecologically hazardous waste from Franz Josef Land in the coming two years. To this end, it plans to allocate not only budget money but also private capital. Several companies that are engaged in processing scrap metal have shown interest in the project, says head of the Council for Studying Labour Force, Gleb Fetisov:

“We hope to see industrial companies among those that will implement the project. These companies will provide their resources. This will be the first environment-protection project in Russia that will be implemented with the involvement of the government and private companies,” Gleb Fetisov said.

Russia is highly interested in restoring and maintaining the natural balance not only on its Arctic territory. As a member of the Arctic Council, it gave 10 million Euros to support projects aimed at cleaning up the entire Polar Region in 2011-2013. An agreement on supporting the Arctic Council projects was signed by Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry and Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO).

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