Can Russia suffer a serious ecological disaster like Chernobyl?

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MOSCOW – In Russia, a major environmental catastrophe could occur, similar in its severity to the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, a government official said.

In an interview with the Izvestia newspaper, Svetlana Radionova, head of the Federal Natural Resources Oversight Service, warned that if one of the companies in the Irkutsk region is not recovered and decontaminated, an ecological disaster similar to Chernobyl that destroyed Pripyat in the Soviet Union in 1986 could occur.

Authorities criticize the owners of the Usolyekhimprom plant, which produces chlorine and other chemicals, for completely ignoring the ecological repercussions of their business after leaving the factory.

This factory, according to Radionova, fell completely into decay and its owners left everything unsupervised. More specifically, she noted, the plant is in urgent need of decontamination due to strong mercury pollution in the region.

Harmful substances

To illustrate this, Radionova referred to a set of reservoirs containing unspecified hazardous chemicals stored on the factory premises, nobody knowing exactly what is inside.

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According to her, inside the factory there are reservoirs of harmful chemicals, some of which are under pressure. In wells where saline was collected, waste oil was pumped.

“The Angara River runs alongside and it is clear that if one of these wells breaks, the river will be polluted. In fact, this is an area where an ecological catastrophe can occur. We need to act now,” the official warned.

Systemic problem

In addition, ecologist Andrei Peshkov explained that the Usoliekhimprom plant has been operating for a long time, and environmentalists are aware of the consequences of its work because it has produced a large amount of chemicals that are leaked into the environment.

“In the Angara River sediments have accumulated significant volumes of chemicals. This has long been known. This is a systemic problem of our country,” stated Peshkov.

According to an expert in the postwar years, few paid attention to ecological issues, funding for the elimination of environmental damage was minimal. There was a strategy of transferring the problems to future generations. There are already many modern technologies today, but entrepreneurs save the most and do not apply them.

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