Chukotka seeks federal funding for environmental clean-up projects

By Nikolay Parfyonov, Krayniy Sever - March 28, 2017
Abandoned oil drums on the tundra at Chenkul Island in Chukotka, Russia. (Getty)
Abandoned oil drums on the tundra at Chenkul Island in Chukotka, Russia. (Getty)

In early March, Chukotka Governor Roman Kopin participated in a meeting of the working group on”Ensuring Environmental Safety and Rational Use of Natural Resources” as part of the State Commission on Arctic development. The meeting took place on March 3, 2017 in Moscow under the leadership of Sergei Donskoy, Russia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. During the meeting the head of the district described proposals for ensuring environmental safety of the Arctic zone of Russia.

According to Kopin, the greatest environmental problem for Chukotka today is the damage that accumulated as a result of past economic activities.

The structure of environment management and the concept of development of the Far North, which has been in place since the late 1940s, involved the development of a mining industry—including large-scale geological exploration and the development of deposits in hard-to-reach areas—and the deployment of military units in the district.

In the late 1990s, economic activity in the territory of the district was largely discontinued, and the presence of military personnel was sharply reduced, leaving behind virtually useless, abandoned infrastructure.

Several environmental clean-up projects of the Arctic territory that were implemented in the district did not bring desired results. Taking all of this in consideration, the Government of Chukotka has sought support from the federal authorities.

“We submitted proposals to the draft state program ‘Environmental Protection for 2012-2020’ and to the Directed Federal Program ‘Elimination of accumulated environmental damage for 2014-2025’,” Kopin said.

According to Kopin, the Government of Chukotka proposes to complete reclamation of the waste from the former Iul’tinsky tin and tungsten ore mining and processing plant, inventory the accumulated environmental damage, eliminate sources of pollution, rehabilitate the territory of the Pevek mining and processing plant of the “Valkumey” mine, and to remove empty fuel barrels from territories of several municipal districts.

According to the governor, the fragile and vulnerable nature of the Arctic requires a particularly careful treatment. That is why the region proposes to consider issues of ensuring environmental safety of the subjects of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation as a priority.

This article was first published in Krayniy Sever and is republished here by permission.

Correction: An earlier version of this article mis-identified the original publisher as “Dalniy Sever.” This post has been updated to correct the identification.