Russian Paper Mill Threatens Lake Baikal

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
20 January 2010

In order to preserve jobs Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin issued a new decree that will allow the discharge of sewage waters into Lake Baikal, and for the storage and disposal of hazardous waste on the lake’s shores.

Lake Baikal. © Andrey Maximov / WWF Russia

Russia has opted to reopen a notoriously polluting paper mill situated in Baikalsk (Irkutsk region), on the South-Western shore of Lake Baikal, reversing long-time protections to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The resumption of work “….will mean that Russia violates its obligations as one of the signatory party of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention” said Igor Chestin, WWF Russia Director. “The new resolution weakens the protection level of the World Natural Heritage site”.

The 3.15-million-ha Lake Baikal in Siberia is the oldest and deepest lake in the world, according to UNESCO’s website. It contains 20 percent of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Lake Baikal first received UNESCO designation in 1996.

Russian environmental organizations, including Greenpeace and WWF, have demanded that the government cancel the resolution. Environmentalists have also addressed The World Heritage Centre of UNESCO with a request to raise the Baikal problem at the soonest session of the UNESCO Committee.

Read full article: WWF

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