• 2017 April 3

    Black Nakhodka. New Season

    Fresh news from the port of Nakhodka. More coal is coming. No dust decrease. Stevedores are hiding behind promises. Coal terminal sealed by Rosprirodnadzor is operating at its full capacity. The authorities of different levels make courtesy visits to the black area. Tension is growing in the society. Andrei Karpov, Chairman, Board of the regional branch of the Green Party of Russia, tells about the current situation and options to settle the conflict.

    In the beginning of the year, after numerous appeals, Russia's environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Nature Resources) and the Transport Prosecutor's Office of the Primorsky Territory inspected the terminals causing the greatest concern because of their operation near residential quarters. Following the inspection, it was decided to seal the coal handling equipment of Port Vostochnyje Vorota - Primorsky Zavod CJSC. In February the terminal was sealed. However, on March 13, the Court of Nakhodka overturned the decision and the stevedore continues its operation. Now we are waiting for official action from the Pacific Maritime Administration of Rosprirodnadzor.

    Another violator is OJSC Astafyev Terminal. The pollution level in the area of the ​​Astafyev Street within the terminal’s zone of ​​operation is twice as high as the permissible level. In order to prove the negative consequences of the terminal operation, we, together with Rospotrebnadzor, have repeatedly conducted the evaluation of the air pollution level, also with video recording of dust emissions. Under the public pressure, the company's management held a meeting with the residents. We were shown the modernization project providing for the installation of a protective shelter and water cannons. However, there have been no changes in the transshipment technology. On the contrary, the terminal intensified its activities, especially at night, delivering coal to the loading point in open trucks crossing the residential area. This sort of tactics with loud promises has been followed by the company for more than a year. They are talking about future plans for modernization and environmental protection but nothing changes in reality.

    I would emphasize that not all coal terminals cause the pollution of Nakhodka. However, OJSC Astafyev Terminal and CJSC Port Vostochnyje Vorota - Primorsky Zavod CJSC located in close proximity to residential area have not achieved any significant reduction of the negative impact on the environment.

    About a couple of times a year authorities of different levels traditionally demonstrate their interest to the issue, the intensity of this interest is proportional to the outcry of local residents. Two years ago, together with a group of environmental experts and lawyers, we prepared and submitted to the regional authorities an action plan to suppress coal dust in Nakhodka. Our project was based on the experience of the port of Murmansk and other successful domestic and foreign ports. However, we still have not received a response to our proposals. Neither from the regional, nor from the city administrations. At the same time, authorities are liberal of promises and reassuring talks. From the beginning of the year in Nakhodka hosted meetings with City Duma deputies, municipal administration, Territory Governor and State Duma deputy elected in Nakhodka. Once again the authorities promise the settlement but no result of their work is seen. During the courtesy visits of the authorities and inspectors, the stevedores just suspend shipments and turn on the water cannons as a showing off. Immediately after the departure of the inspectors, the shipments are resumed in larger volumes to cover the delay.

    Being well aware of the need to develop the city, we adhere to a systematic approach. Positive examples of how stevedores invest in environmentally friendly production are available worldwide as well as in Russia and in Nakhodka. If we refer to foreign experience, European or, for example, Japanese, I believe strict compliance with sanitary norms and the use of appropriate technologies will give the region the desired compromise: economic growth, transport development, jobs and comfortable, eco-friendly environment.

    To make the stevedores understand the need for technical re-equipment and compliance with environmental law, it is necessary, first of all, to revise the laws regulating this sphere. The legal responsibility of temporary stevedores is clearly not proportional to environmental risks. The fines should not be symbolic, they should be at least comparable to the expanses for environmental modernization of production facilities. Against the background of responsible stevedoring companies that implement their environmental programs, some enterprises that neglect sanitary standards frustrate the overall efforts. All this not only aggravates the ecological situation and causes public discontent, but also raises a radical doubt in the expediency of coal transshipment for the city and its residents.

    Non-dedicated terminals without environmental protection should not be allowed to perform clamshell transshipment of coal within the city boundaries, transportation of open wagons and trucks with coal should not be allowed to cross the residential areas. Joint efforts and a political will of the authorities are required to meet this challenging task.

    Perhaps, the process of finding a solution is hindered by the split of ecological organizations? May be the issue is within someone’s commercial interests? We see that in the run-up to local elections some of our political leaders are actively commenting the coal issue. However, do they really have a political will to change the situation? 

    So far, first tangible results have been achieved by the Green Party. However, the ecologists, public organizations and citizens of Nakhodka should not stop their struggle and should join their efforts. Our salvation is in our hands.

    Andrei Karpov