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2020 December 7

Is a new coal terminal needed in Vladivostok?

In his interview with IAA PortNews, Vladimir Rakov, Dr.Sc in biology, principal researcher, POI FEB RAS, Chairman of the Coordination Council on Ecological Problems in Primorye, shared the problematics of Vladivostok port industry’s coal focus.

Recently published Decree of RF Government on expansion of Vladivostok port borders to the Sukhodol Bay for construction of a coal terminal has exacerbated the concerns of the scientific community in the region. In his interview with IAA PortNews, Vladimir Rakov, Dr.Sc in biology, principal researcher, POI FEB RAS, Chairman of the Coordination Council on Ecological Problems in Primorye, shared the problematics of Vladivostok port industry’s coal focus.

- The Sukhodol project is almost ten years old already. Why is it a burning issue now?

- Because of the unfavorable findings of the Public Environmental Expert Review with objections of experts to most clauses of the design documentation. However, our negative conclusion has been ignored. Despite the requests we got no replies from an investor or from official authorities. Meanwhile, technogenic impact of the violations revealed can be negative for a various spheres of Vladivostok and its neighborhood.

- The conclusions based on the Public Environmental Expert Review are non-regulatory. What is the sense of disputing a statutory compliance of the construction following all the formal procedures?

- There is a principle sense. The Public Council of Experts that came to a negative conclusion on the project involved about a dozen of scientists from several scientific institutes – three institute of February RAS as well as FEMRI and FEFU. Each statement of the expert team is reasoned by scientific research. They cannot be just neglected. Thus, the Prime Minister's new Decree has not only complicated the problematics of Vladivostok development but also, in a wider sense, confirmed the gap between the science and the capital in our country.

- What are the experts’ objections to the terminal location?

- The site selected is extremely dangerous for construction of any port since the Telyakovsky Bay open from the Sea of Japan is exposed to typhoons and tsunami. Several incidents have already occurred during the construction including two lives taken by Typhoon Maysak in early September 2020. A floating crane was thrown onto the shore of the bay causing several injures and two fatalities. Since it is a shallow bay the project foresees an offshore pier almost a kilometer off the shore, hence large-scale dredging works (tens of millions of cubic meters) and dumping of soil in the center of the bay. Almost the entire northern part of the Ussuri Bay will be affected by such an extensive dredging and dumping as well as other bays. Valuable aquatic biological resources and habitat areas of marine wildlife will be  irreversibly damaged. Besides, the project does not take into account the geology of the site which poses a risk of emergency. The terminal operation threatens the unique flora and fauna of the area represented by some 100 species of birds and about 60 species of mammals and reptiles including some red-listed endemics such as Michoacan stream salamander and Amur leopard cat. However, the highest impact will be made by coal dust the volume of which is expected to be essential due to the announced throughput of 20 million tonnes per year. The consequences will highly jeopardize the living standard in Vladivostok.

By Yevgeny Pankratyev

news@portnews.ru

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