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Премия рунета 2017

The damage seen from space: 1500 kilometers of rivers in the Amur basin polluted

17 june 2020
1500 kilometers of mud in the Far Eastern rivers were detected during the first month of satellite monitoring carried out by specialists from the Center for Satellite Monitoring and Civil Control and the Ecological Coalition “Rivers without Borders”. Environmentalists assume that river pollution occurred as a result of the activities of placer gold mining enterprises.

WWF Russia Amur branch summed up the results of the first month of satellite monitoring of river pollution in the Russian Far East. The monitoring was organized by WWF Russia with financial support from the Presidential Grants Fund. Since May 15, 42 cases of water bodies pollution in three Far Eastern regions were revealed; the total length of pollution was 1,510 kilometers. For all identified facts, letters of concern were prepared and sent to the subordinate bodies of Rosprirodnadzor with a request to find out the causes and source of pollution, as well as take measures to punish those enterprises that caused river pollution.

Amurskaya province takes the lead in the number of detected pollutions. After first month, ecologists recorded 34 cases of pollution of water bodies with a total length of 1321 km in this province. In Zabaikalsky province 4 facts of pollution with a total length of 130 km were found, and in Kamchatka - also 4 cases with a total length of pollution of 59 km.

According to Irina Lindberg, the head of Green Economy department of WWF Russia Amur branch: 

“In recent years, the number of licenses issued for the exploration and placer gold mining in the Amur basin has increased dramatically and the number of enterprises conducting this activity has increased as well. For example, in 2017 in Amurskaya province 81 licenses were obtained for activities related to the exploration and extraction of placer gold, in 2018 - 220, in 2019 it reached 258. A similar situation is observed in Khabarovsky province, where the number of issued licenses increased from 25 in 2017 to 77 in 2019. Moreover, a significant number of licenses are issued for areas located on rivers where gold mining has not previously been conducted.”

WWF Russia believes that it is necessary to take measures to prevent such violations and reduce the damage caused by placer gold mining. In particular, to limit the issuance of licenses for rivers previously not affected by placer gold mining; for areas adjacent to the protected areas; for areas located close to settlements or having special environmental or economic value; to increase the role of local people voice in making decisions on the launch of gold mining projects in a particular area; to toughen penalties for miners - violators of the environmental law.

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