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  2. "Evil experiment" vs "effective waste utilization". Who is arguing about waste incineration in Komi and why

"Evil experiment" vs "effective waste utilization". Who is arguing about waste incineration in Komi and why

Ekaterina Lobanovskaya
Photo from 7x7’s archive

Social activists have developed opposing opinions about the need to use thermal destructors – refuse incineration installations — in 25 localities of the republic. Some called it a "dangerous and evil experiment", while others believe that these installations produce a minimum of polluting emissions and will enable waste utilization in hard-to-reach areas. Learn more about the viewpoint of eco-activists and their suggestions from 7x7’s review.

About the cons

The Save Pechora Committee has begun collecting signatures against the inclusion of thermal destructors in the territorial waste management scheme on vk.com. Members of the community believe that the ingestion of substances from waste incineration can lead to adverse health consequences, in particular, a rise in cancer and endocrine diseases, as well as various pathologies among newborns. In their opinion, thermal destructors are also not suitable for municipal waste incineration, since they do not have a waste gas system and a constant temperature regime.

"Thermal destructors of the regional operator (the Regional Operator of the North) do not have a state environmental seal of approval, there are no emissions measurements, no analyses of ash and slag from SMW incineration. This means that a dangerous and evil experiment is going to be conducted on us," the activists wrote in the post.

The Committee suggested that Roman Polshvedkin, minister of natural resources and environmental protection of the Komi Republic, should conduct a major study. In particular, it is necessary to study the morphological composition of waste, introduce SMW accounting upon its accumulation, renounce the introduction of thermal destructors, set targets for the share of recovered wastes by 2030, and educate people about separate waste collection.

Activists believe that it is necessary to gradually finance a waste utilization program in districts and cities. This will allow taking mistakes into account and preventing them in other localities. Another requirement of the organization's representatives is to control the regional operator. According to environmental activists, the current control system does not allow estimating the amount of residential solid waste, exported from the districts; at the same time, local residents must pay in accordance with regulations, approved in the republic.

What is wrong with the pros

On December 9, the Komiinform News Outlet reported that members of the Save Pechora Committee from Ukhta had supported the use of thermal destruction in hard-to-reach areas. In their article, journalists referred to the opinions of scientists and professors of Ukhta State Technical University Vitaly Dudnikov and Natalia Machulina, mentioned in the conclusion on the implementation of received comments and suggestions of the outcomes of discussing the draft territorial SMW management scheme. Both experts are members of the Save Pechora Committee. According to the scientists, mobile waste thermal destruction plants produce a minimum of harmful emissions.

"In winter, one installation of this kind may arrive in the most remote and hard-to-reach areas of the Komi Republic. Thus, there is no need for transportation and placement of SMW in Ukhta," the media outlet quoted the representatives of the Committee.

Chairman of the Save Pechora Committee Ivan Ivanov told 7x7 that all decisions in the community were joint, and the statements of its individual members were an expression of personal opinions, but not the Committee’s viewpoint.

"In fact, the Ukhta branch [of the Committee] have not had any meeting on the matter, have not discussed this [issue]. This cannot be considered the viewpoint of either the Committee or the Ukhta branch," Ivanov said. "We do not represent the interests of scientists and institutes. We represent the interests of people. Therefore, all decisions are made through discussion and voting. I cannot say anything as a Chairman without having discussed it first. Yes, there are things that we do by default. We all trust each other the right to report violations and make requests. But such things require voting."

Kominform’s article also states that members of the Civil Society of the Komi Republic Organization “approve the use of thermal destruction plants, but only after the introduction of separate waste collection. At the same time, in their opinion, only sorted homogeneous non-hazardous wastes should be destructed.” The Civil Society of the Komi Republic denied this statement.

"The Civil Society of the Komi Republic, as well as the Save Pechora Committee, is totally against thermal destructors. As we can see, there is a planned campaign to discredit the leading social movements," Nina Ananina, the representative of the community and ecologist, told 7x7.

According to her, thermal destructors are not intended for municipal waste utilization, and using them will lead to adverse health consequences.

"Household waste incineration at a temperature of less than a thousand degrees leads to the generation of dioxins and furans, super-toxic agents, even very small amounts of which cause cancer diseases, endocrine disorders, pathology of intrauterine development and which are transmitted to a child through breast milk," explained the ecologist. "The temperature must be kept constantly. None of the present-day technologies can achieve this."

Signatures against the inclusion of thermal destructors in the territorial waste management scheme are collected in all localities, where it is planned to install thermal destructors, up to December 25. After that, the activists are going to send appeals to the Head of the Komi Republic Vladimir Uyba, Chairman of the State Council Sergei Usachyov, and the Republican Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Roman Polshvedkin.


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