The Results of the Environment Protection Year in Saint-Petersburg - things are going, problems remain

Authors: D.Mytareva, T.Shauro, O.Senova
Press conference “The Results of the Environment Protection Year of Saint-Petersburg Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety and plans on 2014” was held on January, 16. One of the main problems was the absence of sewage cleaning of 40% industrial enterprise and illegal dumps of waste products. People are worried about stopping separate waste collection in the city and absence of public awareness outreach for reducing the income of phosphates to the sewage.

Valeriy Matveyev, chairman of the Committee for Nature Use, Environmental Protection and Ecological Safety, presented the results of Committee work during the previous year. In 2014 ecological policy of Saint-Petersburg till 2030 was adopted. During its elaboration about 700 public remarks were accepted. It shows that environmental problems really bother citizens.

According to the information of the Committee, 196 oil spills were liquidated, 42 thousand kg oil products were collected during the previous year. Also, the amount of collected dangerous waste was really large: 16 tons of batteries, 80 thousands of luminescent lamps, 10 thousand of mercury devices, 20 tons of office equipment. Stationary centers of waste processing began working on continuing basis.

Of course, a lot of problems were solved but still more things should be done. It is necessary to work with people and agitate them not to throw hazardous waste in the trash can, but utilize them.

In 2013 the realization of pilot project of waste utilization in Krasniy Bor was continued. This project is quite controversial and has attracted a lot of questions. Technical equipment became obsolete, a lot of construction mistakes were acknowledged. Representatives of the Committee approve that the preparation of all documents for modernization will take over 3-4 months (but the conversation about it continues for several years). The main problem is absence of equipment for utilization. There is no such outfit in Russia and using of import one isn’t possible because this waste has no class (in virtue of lack of international waste classification in Russia).

Talking about illegal dumps Valeriy Matveyev said: ‘…We are fighting with windmills. It is necessary to remove the cause – dishonest transporters who don’t carry waste to the polygons. The Committee should prevent formation of new dumps’.

The Committee pointed out that more than 40% of enterprises asking permission for water discharge, without having pollution control or treatment facilities.

At the end of the conference Valeriy Matveev decided to ‘boast’ of some results. Two new protected natural areas were created: “The southern shore of Neva Bay” – state nature reserve of regional importance and “The valley of the river Popovka” – nature monuments of regional importance. The first one is the location of ‘Plavni Kronkolonii’. This unique nature territory is situated between industrial objects and will be influenced by them. In point of view of the ‘Friends of the Baltic’ organization, it is important to ensure the regular monitoring and effective nature protection regime for this territory.

Ivan Serebritskiy and Nikolay Borisov answered the questions. Talking about the dump in Shushary Nikolay Borisov said that some visits departures which aim was to stop waste storage were conducted on this problematic area. The part of equipment was confiscated according to court decisions (but the majority of technics was abandoned). The main aim is to fight with the reason, but not the consequences. The answer to the question ‘when the dump will be removed?’ wasn’t given.

Also, questions of ‘The Friends of the Baltic’ about causes of the eutrophication (phosphate powders, animal farms) remained without answers. Although the process of cleaning is partly realizing, the lowering of using phosphate detergents and legislative limitation of phosphorus content is not the paramount objective of the Committee. Different public organizations work in the sphere of lowering people’s contribution to eutrophication ( Olga Senova, the chair person of ‘Friends of the Baltic’ organisation, says that the interaction with people should be the main purpose of the city administration.

The question about separate waste collection and about the experiment in Saint-Petersburg (which wasn’t succeeded because of the public awareness outreach absence) was asked. Nikolay Borisov concluded that citizens were not ready to separate their waste. Also, he said that nowadays the only recycling method of public waste is sorting garbage on the recycling plants. The effectiveness of such way of treatment is very low. And it is necessary to output new methods and work with citizens. Such solution could create a system of lowering waste volume and turn them to resources.
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