Scientists report major environmental problems in Arctic Yakutia – Business & Economy

YAKOUTSK, December 24. / TASS /. More than four million tonnes of industrial and construction waste still remain on the Arctic Ocean coastline in Yakutia. The situation must be dealt with immediately, the director of the Northern Institute of Applied Ecology (Northeast Federal University, NEFU), Grigory Savvinov, told TASS.

According to experts, the five arctic districts of Yakutia are suffering major ecological damage. These districts form the Yana-Indigirka Impact Zone, which contains hard waste landfills from gold and tin production. The dumps were left as they were, without any revegetation. The accumulated damage is so enormous that the arctic nature would not be able to deal with it even for centuries.

“It is a problem of accumulated ecological degradation, which must be considered as a major ecological problem in the arctic region,” said the scientist. “For example, the contamination in the Ust-Yana district is in the areas where the Kularzoloto and Sakhaolovo gold and tin mining factories operated, which were the main sources of contamination. When they were closed, there remained about 60 locations of non-revegetated contaminated land, including the landfills of the former Kular gold mining plant and the Deputatskaya central processing plant, as well as eight towns. abandoned industrial plants. “

The most depressing situations are found in the Ust-Yana and Verkhoyansky districts, where Soviet-era landfills remain dangerous sources of environmental contamination.

Sources of contamination

In the Verkhoyansky district, the potential sources of contamination, which threaten the health of the population, are around old industrial facilities in the villages of Batagai and Ege-Khaya. Most threatening is the abandoned dump of the old 418 factory, which is very close to the flow of the Yana River and is practically in the village of Batagai.

In addition, virtually all of the diamond mines in Yakutia are in areas of rivers, which flow directly into the Laptev Sea through the Anabar or Olenyok rivers, or through the Lena River transit system, which is connected to the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean. “This situation highlights some geo-ecological problems, which require scientific approaches”, said the expert.

According to scientists, the development of the placer diamond deposits has affected the ecosystem of the Anabar River. “We recorded the transformation, first of all, of the alluvial landscapes (floodplain – TASS)”, he continued. “We can see the formation of a new human-made landscape. Currently, it takes about 10% of the average Anabar course.”

The continuous influx of suspended matter is the reason for their accumulation in the river bed, he explained. This situation alters the hydrochemical regime of rivers, as well as the structure and productivity of fish.

Ecological risks

Scientists have seen that in areas of the Anabar River close to diamond production, fish contain greater concentrations of heavy metals, which are drained into the river during the washing process. “We have seen a close correlation between the disposable metallic forms in water and the high concentrations of heavy metals in the kidneys, liver and scales of fish,” said the expert.

In addition, the results of the institute’s studies showed that the biomass of zooplankton in the river has decreased by almost 19 times. The river’s spawning grounds have also declined. Therefore, the populations of ryapushka, lake whitefish and whitefish are at risk. At the same time, lamprey, grayling and pike are no longer found in this stream.

The upcoming large-scale development of oil and gas deposits on the Arctic shelf will inevitably lead to pollution of the aquatic area, violation of fish food and spawning conditions, the scientist continued. “However, so far in such projects, studies of damage to fishery resources have been insufficient. We are particularly concerned about the species, which are traditionally fished in Yakut districts – normally the fish come in. these coastal areas to gain weight and form spawning grounds, “he added.

The scientist stressed the importance of a new stage of complex studies to see the conditions of the arctic ecosystem in the growing development of mining projects. “It is necessary to develop a sustainable development strategy,” he explained. “In this regard, our hopes are for the complex science studies program within the framework of the world-class ‘North: Territory of Sustainable Development’ science and education center,” he said.

The scientific center

The world-class science and education center “North: Land of Sustainable Development” brought together the institutes of the Yakutia Academy of Sciences and the Yakut Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences and NEFU. The objective of the center is to implement the latest technologies and studies in the fields of biotechnology and research on permafrost. The center works in five regions – Yakutia, Sakhalin, Magadan, Kamchatka and Chukotka.

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