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President Putin’ Meeting with ecologists and animal protection activists

President Putin’ Meeting with ecologists and animal protection activists

Vladimir Putin had a meeting, via videoconference, with representatives of public environmental and animal protection organisations.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

We are meeting on Ecologist’s Day. In this sense, of course, I would like to extend my greetings to you and to all of Russia’s citizens who devote their lives to protecting nature and the environment. I want to thank you for your work, primarily, of course, those of you who work in these sphere professionally but also everyone who cares: scientists, employees of national parks and reserves as well as the Rosprirodnadzor staff – in fact, all our colleagues who support the continuous and important activities of regional nature protection agencies and environmental organisations.

Of course, our best regards go to our volunteers, activists, nature activists and energetic people who care sincerely about this work. Your personal involvement in environmental events and large educational, scientific and research work is important, sometimes essential, and is a significant part of our joint efforts to conserve Russia’s unique nature and biodiversity.

It is often because of you that local government receives prompt signals about concrete problems, a boost from society, and takes the necessary measures.

We can recall the so-called ‘whale prison’ in Vladivostok or stories about cruelty to animals that, in fact, became a catalyst of the separate Federal Law On Responsible Treatment of Animals.

I would like to hear more from you and learn about your projects and plans.

I also would like to draw your attention to the fact that we today have a link-up with the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, the Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, and the Deputy Prime Minister who is in charge of this area. Therefore, all your proposals will be considered during the implementation of the Environment national project, which directly concerns all sectors of the economy and the social sphere and requires the active participation of civil society.

But we have to begin our conversation with the Norilsk accident.

On Wednesday, as you know, instructions were issued and now I ask you to report on the developments on site and, most importantly, what emergency measures are being taken and what decisions have been prepared to minimise the aftermath of the accident.

Let us begin. Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev, please take the floor.

Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief Yevgeny Zinichev: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Yesterday, we held a command centre meeting here in Norilsk and decided on specific emergency response tactics.

The area is swampy and hard to reach, we will deliver watertight tanks to be placed along the riverbed for collecting and removing the oil and further recycling or disposal.

The Marine Rescue Service, a division of Rosmorrechflot [Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport], and special Gazpromneft divisions that have experience and equipment for this work and the Emergencies Ministry’s Siberian Rescue Centre are at the scene.

A camp has also been set up. They will be working to contain the spill. We have set up the critical services and secured air passage. Helicopters will deliver equipment and other materials, including drinking water.

Most importantly, we contained the oil spill on June 1 and installed booms, so the situation is not getting any worse. Today, we are simply working to collect the oil and petroleum products.

We are working in compliance with all ecological standards. Rosprirodnadzor is overseeing the effort. Ms Radionova, who is here, can confirm this or add to it.

That concludes my report, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: You said this terrain is remote, that there is no transport here, and that you intend to remove and recycle the waste, and dispose of it. First, I would like to ask how and when you will remove this waste. This is the first thing.

And secondly, I have a question on waste disposal. There were plans to burn the waste onsite. To the best of my knowledge, some serious, not minor, problems arose with this.

Yevgeny Zinichev: Mr President, it goes without saying that we cannot burn off the waste for ecological considerations.

Regarding removal, we want to collect the waste and store it here until winter roads can be established. After that, vehicles will be able to remove it to waste disposal sites.

Vladimir Putin: Are these temporary tanks reliable enough, and how will they be delivered?

Yevgeny Zinichev: They are reliable, and are used to store fuel and lubricants. I know that the Defence Ministry also has its own field fuel and lubricant storage facilities.

Vladimir Putin: Very well. Fine.

I can see the head of the region near you.

Mr Uss, take the floor please.

Governor of Krasnoyarsk Territory Alexander Uss: Mr President, work is underway in two municipalities – Norilsk and Taimyr. They provide general organisational support, specifically, the first field camp, the first tents appeared thanks to them. In addition, the Spasatel regional team operates here, and our environmentalists, together with Rosprirodnadzor, also continue working, and I think they will provide serious help in understanding how to eliminate the environmental consequences of what happened.

In fact, the work is already well organised. I would like to say that many large companies, including Rosneft, who operate in Krasnoyarsk Territory, have expressed their intention to add forces and means here, if necessary.

Vladimir Putin: Fine, thank you.

Ms Radionova, please, Natural Resources Supervision Service.

Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources Svetlana Radionova: Mr President,

Given the fact that the accident and the subsequent spill of 15,000 tonnes into this water body are unprecedented in scale, we have localised additional forces here and relocated the laboratory. Every day we are trying to contain the consequences of the accident. We are taking samples every day; more than 50 samples have been taken in total. What we are now registering exceeds the norm tens of thousands of times over.

Petroleum products are being collected. So far, 150 cubic metres of petroleum products have been collected, but tomorrow we will install tanks and expect to collect 1,500 cubic metres daily. Further, all petroleum products must be removed. They need to be disposed of using the best available technology and the most environmentally friendly method.

We are not going to burn the petroleum products. We are in the Arctic zone and we believe that the use of other methods, including reagents, biological reclamation, using a lower hazard class of both petroleum products collected from the water area and contaminated soil that we also control (for reclamation), will probably be the best solution in the Arctic zone.

At present, we are also carrying out unscheduled inspections of companies. We will complete these by June 26. Based on the results, we will make a decision and an assessment of the company’s actions, and estimate the damages caused to the environment. This estimate may amount to billions of rubles. We intend to tightly control work to bring the ecosystem to the state in which it should be, that is, to its original state.

Source: President of Russia Kremlin Website Media

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