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Norilsk – Is a Zone of Ecologic Catastrophe

Norilsk – Is a Zone of Ecologic Catastrophe
27.05.2007

OPEN LETTER OF CITIZENS OF NOILSK TO THE COMMISSION ON ECOLOGICAL SAFETY AND ENVIROMENTAL CONTROL OF PUBLIC CHAMBER OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Dear members of the commission, we, citizens of Norilsk, are extremely concerned by the ecological conditions which have been developed in our city.

We address you, in hope to receive help from your side in solving of problems to make our environment suitable for life of people. For many years metallurgical enterprises "Norilsk Nickel", Ltd GMK have been throwing out in the atmosphere, in air which we and our people breathe more than two millions tons of harmful substances annually. They poison our reservoirs, earth killing vegetation. They slowly poison us.

Heavy metals present in atmospheric pollution lead to decrease of immunity of the townspeople which is so necessary under our climatic conditions. The basic displays of immune insufficiency of children is their susceptibility to frequent SARS, to repetitive diseases by pneumonia, bronchites and significant prevalence of allergic diseases. Sulfur dioxide being the most significant polluting factor, at the superfluous presence in the atmosphere promotes occurrence and development of chronic illnesses of lungs, irritates mucous coats of the eyes and respiratory channels, contributes and sharpens course of chronic gastritis, bronchitis, laryngitis, can lead to lung cancer.

At interaction with atmospheric moisture it forms the smallest drops of the sulphurous acid which burns out our lungs every day, which drops out a rain that kills vegetation. Cancellation of children's walks became habitual practice in preschool establishments owing to a strong gassed condition of air.

Condition of the environment and first of all atmospheric air in Norilsk industrial region is being defined by emissions of the metallurgical enterprises - their share makes almost 99%. 20,4% of all atmospheric pollution in the Russian Federation fall on Norilsk. Raised level of pollution of atmosphere by harmful substances is being fixed 350 days a year, about 80% of them - with a level up to 5 maximum concentration limits and about 20% - with a level 10 maximum concentration limits and more, that allows to estimate during the longest part of year a level of pollution as "strong" and "very strong".

Not less harm is being made by the industrial giant also to the unique Таymir flora and fauna. The lake Pjasino which is connected to Arctic Ocean is poisoned by poisonous waste that made an irreparable harm to the fauna in the lake. The hydrostorehouse of industrial wastes of Nadezhdensky Metal Works every spring spills over banks bringing dense streams of industrial dirt of red color into the river Ambarka. All streams and their coasts have red color from iron - it's not taken by industrial way, it stores in the open lakes - reservoirs.

Collateral production - technical sulfur has been storing open-air here during 25 years. This dump is getting bigger for some hundreds tons every day.

According to "Federal Centre of Science of Hygiene Named after F.F.Erisman", Federal Service on supervision in the sphere of protection of the rights of consumers and well-being of a person excess of limiting concentration in a residential zone of the city has following parameters (maximum concentration limit maximal single/average): formaldehyde - 13,3/9,5 phenol - 9,2/2, nitrogen dioxide - 5,2/1,3, nitrogen oxide - 1.8/1.3, sulfur dioxide - 17.5/4.2, nikel - 20/7.5, copper - 17.7/4, cobalt - 5.8/3.

Concentration of harmful substances in air exceeds maximum permissible norm in times and even in tens times. But we do not know precisely in how many times. The control over quality of air is not conducted neither by municipal, nor public services. There is no necessary equipment, there are no necessary experts.

Administration of the Norilsk municipality, receiving significant unappropriated financial help from city-forming enterprises and Krasnoyarsk region, has distanced itself from a problem. Any activity of federal state inspectors on preservation of the environment is also not visible. "Norilsk Nickel" is engaged in monitoring of condition of the environment exclusively and by itself but hides the results of monitoring subjecting them to the censorship and more often simply not publishing. Developing of ecologic program being declared by "Norilsk Nickel" remains to be declaration.

No real actions for improvement of ecological conditions are being carried out. Instead of investing additional clearing systems for improvement of ecological situation in city and vicinities as well as for improvement of quality of life of citizens of Russia, "Norilsk Nickel" makes investments into foreign economy. A method of operative decrease in activity of capacities applied earlier under the adverse weather conditions bringing an exhaust of metallurgical production into city streets is no longer in use. Moreover, it was announced through mass media that its application would be made only in cases of critical excess of maximum permissible concentration of polluting substances in the atmosphere of city. It remains not clear what management of "Norilsk Nickel" considers to be "critical situation" if twentyfold excess of maximum permissible norms of air pollution for them - ordinary business. Meanwhile we are ill and we die.

According to the American institute "Blacksmith Institute", average life expectancy in Norilsk is 10 years less, than in other part of Russia. Inhabitants of Norilsk have oncological diseases 1,65 times more often, than on the average across Russia, inhabitants of "the central area" of the city even - in 2,7 times. These are 85 ill people for every 10 thousand people. Every year we address to doctors for help for the various reasons more often. On each one thousand people the quantity of references in a year has made 1369.8 times in 1995, 1591.8 - 1999, 1668.5 - 2001. Such tendency continues.

Constitutional laws of each of 230 thousand citizens on favorable environment, on trustworthy information about its condition and on compensation of the damage guaranteed by the 42-nd article of Constitution of the Russian Federation are broken, that is inadmissible in a lawful state. We wish to live in favorable ecological conditions, for this purpose it is necessary to oblige "Norilsk Nickel" to start immediately erection of additional clearing complexes and a technique of operative decrease of metallurgical factors (when the cloud of wastes gets into the city).  

We wish to know about condition of environment surrounding us, for this purpose it is necessary to create public service of the ecological control over Norilsk which will have an opportunity of operative influence on production of the metallurgical enterprises with a view of decrease of concentration of harmful substances in then atmosphere of the city at excess of their admissible concentration. We need information so that in case of infringement of ecological norms we could bring to book the guilty. We sincerely trust that our reference to you won't be left without answer.

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