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  2. The Save Pechora Committee: information about the finished oil spill clean-up in Kolva is not true

The Save Pechora Committee: information about the finished oil spill clean-up in Kolva is not true

Yulia Polushina
Petroleum products in the Kolva river
Photo by Maxim Polyakov
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The Save Pechora Committee (SPC), together with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), residents of the villages of Kolva, Ust-Usa, and Novikbozh, has examined the area affected by the oil spill at Oshsky Oil Field and reported that information about the finished oil spill clean-up was not true. The report on the expedition was published on the SPC’s official website on June 17.

From June 10 to 12, the activists inspected 208 km of the Kolva river, examined the banks of the village of Kolva, islands and canals in the Pechora river near the village of Novikbozh, the mouths of the Kolva and Usa rivers and took samples. They found out that soil, grass, and bushes on the bank of the village of Kolva were still contaminated with petroleum products, despite many day-long clean-up.

Traces of oil can be seen on both banks of the Kolva river, islands and canals in the Pechora river near the village of Novikbozh. Environmentalists reported that oil remained on several kilometers of the shores of the islands of Zhdi, Novikdi, of the bank of Igashar Canal.

Activists noticed an iridescent film in the water coming from the spill site all the way to the first bridge. They reported that the responders were burning oil-stained bushes and flushing petroleum oil products into the river. According to the Save Pechora Committee, this is an illegal deliberate contamination of atmosphere air and exposed water.

According to the SPC, less than 5 km of coastline (in length) has been or is being cleaned up on the inspected site, which is no more than 3% of the site's total length. The committee believes that the polluter is hiding the real extent of the oil spill consequences from the public and environmental authorities, and the information about the finished oil spill clean-up is not true. The activists called the measures that are used to eliminate the consequences of oil contamination ineffective and insufficient.

At the same time, Rashid Ismailov, the chairman of the Russian Ecological Society, told TASS on June 15 that there was no contamination, and oil spill clean-up was going to be finished soon. A delegation of Russian environmentalists, who visited the Komi Republic to assess the situation after the pipeline accident, came to such conclusions.

It includes Mikhail Budenkov, the chairman of the board of the Russian Center for Environmental Policy and Culture and a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation; Vasily Smirnov, the head of the republican branch of the All-Russian Society of Nature Conservation All-Russian Civic Organization; and Elena Shumilova, a senator from the State Council of the Komi Republic.

They examined the Kolva, Usa, and Pechora rivers from a helicopter and inspected the Kolva’s coastline on a boat, having taken soil and water samples. After the inspection, the experts concluded that the accident had not caused large-scale and catastrophic damage.

"We see that everything has been removed as planned and under normal conditions. There still remain small measures to clean up the territory, but they are already local in nature," TASS quoted Rashid Ismailov.

On June 15, the Novaya Respublika (‘New Republic’) Community published a story in which it also called the information given by the delegation of Russian environmentalists led by Ismailov unreliable and confirmed the data from the SPC’s report.

There was another oil spill in the Komi Republic due to an accident at Oshsky Oil Field on the border with the Nenets Autonomous Okrug on May 11. Vladimir Uyba, the head of the republic, imposed the regime of emergency in three districts of the Komi Republic — Usinsk, Izhma, and Ust-Tsilma. According to official data, a total of about 100 tons of oil has spilled into soil and water after the accident. The experts of the Save Pechora Committee did not believe the official figures and declared them underestimated, referring to their calculations. The Komi Prosecutor's Office and the Criminal Investigations Directorate for Arkhangelsk Oblast and NAO initiated criminal cases on the fact of the oil spill.


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