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Citys Rivers Top Pollution Rankings

Published: June 8, 2010 (Issue # 1580)



  • A photograph of toxic pollution on the Slavyanka River taken by activists from the international environmental pressure group Greenpeace on Saturday.
    Photo: Vadim Kantor / For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Ecologists claim that local firms have been dumping waste in waterways.
    Photo: Vadim Kantor / For The St. Petersburg Times

St. Petersburg has the most polluted rivers of the Volga-Baltic waterways, according to the results of a research expedition carried out by the international environmental pressure group Greenpeace on the Beluga II ship along one of Russias key waterways.

The aim of the expedition was to determine pollution levels in Russian rivers. The findings were published Monday.

Mercury and oil products are being dumped freely into local waters, which are badly swamped with copper and other heavy metals as well as other toxic pollutants, said Dmitry Artamonov, head of the St. Petersburg branch of Greenpeace.

In some of the water samples taken from the Slavyanka River, for example, the concentration of copper exceeds the norm by 22 times, and the levels of mercury are six times above the norm.

In May, the ecologists took water samples from the Neva River and other local rivers and canals before the ship moved on to Moscow and further along the route. During the course of its one-month journey, Beluga II covered almost 5,000 kilometers of one of Russias major waterways.

With this expedition we wanted to establish the level of pollution in some of the countrys most important rivers; now we are seeking to publicize the results with an eye to persuading regional authorities to enforce a stronger punishment for the illegal discharge of industrial waste into rivers, said Artamonov. Also, a ban must be introduced by the authorities which would make it impossible for companies to dump their industrial waste into sewage channels. Sewage treatment facilities are not equipped to cope with industrial waste.

According to a recent investigation by Greenpeace, large numbers of local companies try to get away with dumping their waste in the sewage channels.

The issue here is that the citys water treatment facilities were originally designed to deal with sewage, so all the chemicals automatically end up in local waters, explains Alexei Kiselyev, head of Greenpeaces toxic research program. This dangerous practice has to be stopped as soon as possible.

Ecologists say the low level of social responsibility in Russia is the direct result of the general inertia and individualism that reigns in Russian society today.

Most people do not show the slightest interest in things that damage the environment, unless they are directly affected by the consequences, said Artamonov.

Water pollution has remained a major concern in St. Petersburg since Soviet times. Unlike in most European cities, tap water is not drinkable.

With several water-treatment plants operating in the city, 40 percent of the sewage and industrial waste originating in the city the highest level in the past 15 years goes directly into the River Neva and the Gulf of Finland, owing to a shortage of waste treatment facilities, according to City Halls statistics. That figure does not include illegal discharges.

Fines for illegal discharges have little or no impact on the problem, as the amounts payable are too small to make a difference to companies. Critics say fines need to be increased drastically, and economic sanctions must be taken against companies that breach environmental standards.





 


Times Talk

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Apr. 24


Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegations visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.


AmChams Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.



Friday, Apr. 25


Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finlands Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from www.culturalkitchen.fi.



Saturday, Apr. 26


At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping malls Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.



Sunday, Apr. 27


Families shouldnt miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.



Monday, Apr. 28


The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBAs Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.



Tuesday, Apr. 29


Improve your English at the British Book Centers Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.