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WWF-Russia assessed the results of water contamination in Kamchatka

05 october 2020
WWF-Russia assessed the results of water contamination at Malaya Lagernaya and Srednyaya Lagernaya bays on the coast of Avacha Bay south of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The video and photo taken today contrast with the views of the clean Khalaktyrsky beach that appeared the day before. This is not surprising, since there is not so much vegetation and marine life on the sandy bottom near Khalaktyrsky beach, than in Avacha Bay, the WWF-Russia’s experts noted

“There are red algae species in the photo. They live at depths from 15 meters and deeper and they are not vulnerable to storms. They can be washed up on the shore only in an extremely rare case, and certainly not in such huge  quantities. Personally, I have never seen them on the shore, - says Sergey Korostelev, PhD,  Sustainable Marine Fisheries Program coordinator with WWF-Russia. - The same can be said about gastropods, the shells of which are usually taken to the shore empty. Here we see a shell with a dead mollusk still inside. "

Other images show a pentagonal coastal crab; two species of a surf clam at once, which are usually found on the shore in single specimens; extremely high number of mussels, approximately ten times more than there could be normally; giant Pacific chiton; and an enormous number of dead sea urchins.

There are very few dead fish, but this may be due to the abundance of seagulls, which quickly eat readily available food.

(с) WWF России

“Such impact, apparently cannot be the result of a storm or water pollution with oil products. There is a great probability of a high-toxic contamination, because there are dead  benthic species of plants and animals. Those aftereffects, described by local surfers also prove that theory. Judging by the fact that benthic species of plants and animals are carried ashore in large quantities, we draw a preliminary conclusion that not only the surface layer of water is polluted, as it would have been in case of oil products spill, but the entire body of water. However, we first must receive the results of the water samples and dead sea animals examination. Only after that it will be possible to judge the consequences and the scale of the contamination. The day before, they were brought to Moscow for laboratorial study,” said Alexey Knizhnikov, the Head of the program on Environmental Business responsibility at WWF-Russia.

The current situation in Kamchatka reveals a problem of an all-Russian scale: the absence of a preventive environmental control system. Disjointed federal and local regulatory agencies are willing to fine violators but the procedure for revealing the facts often rests upon ordinary people, local residents, and environmental activists. At a meeting of the Public Council under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Kamchatka krai, we recently expressed deepest concern about the lack of proper preventive control at the mining projects implementation. It is necessary to develop a system of constant environmental monitoring not only within the region, but also at the level of the Russian Federation with close interaction of responsible agencies both at the federal and local levels. We offered assistance to create such a system.

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