Untitled Document

BLACK ICE

Russia's ongoing oil spill crisis

For decades, Russia's oil giants have been secretly polluting parts of the country's once thriving landscape, spilling oil onto the land and into the Arctic Ocean, poisoning the water and destroying the livelihood of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

Greenpeace has investigated and documented the ongoing disaster, revealing how the oil seeps into rivers and farmland. This leaked oil spreads and becomes a thick, heavy mire, suffocating plants and animals, and forcing people to abandon the area entirely. The oil contaminates food and water supplies, and people live with the knowledge that their once clean rivers, forests and air now pose serious health risks.

When BP spilt 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the whole world took notice. The Russian oil industry spills 30 million barrels on land each year — seven times the amount that escaped during the Deepwater Horizon disaster — all under a veil of secrecy and corruption. And every 18 months, more than four million barrels spews directly into the Arctic Ocean, where it becomes everyone's problem.

Komi district oil spill sites

After analysing satellite images to identify spill sites, Greenpeace staff travelled to the region to investigate and document the spills and expose the extent of the damage. All these photos  were taken over a three-day period in just one of the many oil spill hotspots in Russia.

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The cycle of oil, corruption and pollution

Intensive development work carried out by the oil and gas industry is generally accompanied by large-scale PR campaigns. These are focused on making local residents believe that oil drilling and production are absolutely harmless and will positively contribute to the overall development of the region and its infrastructure.

How much oil is spilled in Russia each year?

Extreme weather conditions along with a lack of maintenance have resulted in a slow but constant seepage of oil from pipeline ruptures. Additionally, there is still "outlawed" burning of associated gas (60% of which is methane — a powerful greenhouse gas). Russia produces around 55 billion cubic metres of this kind of gas annually.

Community breakdown

Indigenous groups of the Russian North, Siberia and the Far East of Russia, totaling about 250,000 people, are some of the most vulnerable groups in Russian society. Their economy and traditional lifestyles are directly dependent on fishing, hunting, deer farming and gathering, so the development of extractive industries, private fisheries and forest industry badly affects their traditional territories, and their right to sustain themselves in a traditional way off the land.

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rom the age of 12 till he retired at 72 Kanev Vyacheslav Vaselyevick bred reindeers from the Komi village Ust'-Usa.

Reindeers need wide, free land. Today Komi land is marred by more than 3,000 drill holes, thousands of kilometers of pipelines, numerous roads, paths and oil industry facilities. Kanev says that he had to drive his animals further and further south to provide them untouched pastures. The reindeers refused to eat the moss and the lichens from the contaminated region. The spread of the oil industry makes breeding reindeers impossible and it is no longer a viable livelihood.
Valery Bratenkov

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alery Bratenkov works as a foreman at oil fields outside Usinsk. After hours, he is with a local environmental group. Bratenkov used to point out to his bosses that oil spills often happen under their noses and asked them to repair the pipelines. "They were offended and said that costs too much money." (Source: AP on location with Greenpeace)

In the oil development area, the spilled oil forms toxic lakes, suffocates the vegetation, penetrates the soil, and seeps into the groundwater. In the little village of Ust'-Usa the people live with the consequences every day.
drinking water
Village Kolva at river Kolva and inhabitants. Young unemploied men at the river.

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oung people in the village of Kolva have little hope for their future. They suffer from high unemployment, very few get jobs with the oil companies and other opportunities are limited. Alcoholism is is also a problem.

The suicide rate in Russia is already considered to be a national crisis. In the Komi Republic, the rates are nearly double the national average and amongst the Indigenous communities, suicide rates are three times this level.

Spring melt reveals oil spilt through the winter

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fisherman in Kolva shows his meager catch. "40 years ago they arrived, drilled oil and just let it bubble into the landscape and the rivers, until the fish swam with the stomach upward. Then we knew what the future would be like." Fishing, hunting and farming were the traditional professions of the Komi, but nowadays nobody can live off them anymore. Impartial tests show that fish are contaminated with toxic oil residues that repeatedly breach acceptable health limits.
Once a good livelihood, fishing has now become a meagre existence for the the people of Kolva village

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n the long Arctic winter, oil leaks unnoticed from numerous underground pipeline ruptures. With the rising temperatures in summer, huge amounts of oil are flushed with the melt-water into the rivers. "In springtime it is the worst," say the inhabitants of Ust'-Usa. "Then you have got oil in the water, in the air, in the food, everywhere. It stinks of oil. The spring is one of the worst seasons."

Russia's claim on the Arctic

Lessons to be learned

According to a representative from the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, "The development of Russia's continental shelf is characterised by the most complicated working conditions and requires the use of new and unique technologies. At the same time, among the major constraints are: extremely difficult, natural climatic and engineering-geological conditions, lack of infrastructure, remoteness of extraction areas from coastal support bases, and the absence of proven technologies for the development of offshore oil and gas fields in the Arctic."

If the Russian oil and gas industry has been unable to adhere to regulations in the existing fields — despite having all the necessary technical capabilities — why would we believe it will show any greater responsibility to environmental issues when developing the offshore Arctic?

Previously classified government documents state that dealing with oil spills in the freezing waters is "almost impossible" and inevitable mistakes would shatter the fragile Arctic environment. To drill in the Arctic, oil companies have to drag icebergs out the way of their rigs and use giant hoses to melt floating ice with warm water. In these conditions, a catastrophic oil spill is just a matter of time.



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你也能幫助

Page | December 20, 2010 at 2:19

氣候變化危機不分國界,阻止氣候變化發生,你也可以行動!節能減碳,你都可幫忙對抗氣候變化!大家不妨就從今天起,改變生活小節,為保護氣候出心出力!

解決方法

Page | December 19, 2010 at 21:52

氣候變化已然發生,但末路未致,並不是無法挽救! 要避免氣候變化的嚴重影響,有兩種主要路徑:利用可再生能源和提高能源使用效率。相比傳統的化石燃料,可再生能源有許多顯而易見的好處:不用擔心燃料枯竭,發電過程中也不會產生溫室氣體和其他污染物。 你也可以在日常生活節能,我們為你提供很多好方法。你有好想頭的話,請也不吝告訴我們。

Alberta tar sands secrets: hidden information on deformed fish

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Great story in the Globe and Mail today about information on deformed fish in the rivers in the tar sands region of Alberta that has been kept from the public. The story ( http://bit.ly/fFkaD2 ) says that the monitoring body...

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Blog entry by Brian Blomme | December 16, 2010

Media coverage of the report on the tar sands by the Royal Society on Dec. 15, 2010, to a large extent supports the view of Greenpeace there is serious neglect by the Alberta and federal governments in regulating the tar sands. ...

非暴力直接行動

Hub | December 15, 2010 at 23:01

綠色和平給你什麼感覺﹖常常在高樓之間飛來爬去的﹖激進﹖走在前線﹖ 面對社會各式各樣的議題,很多人以為手無寸鐵、沒有公職的平民百姓,要抱打不平,除了投票選議員,便只有寫信、請願,但到最後如果政府和有關機構聽不進耳,愛理不理,也拿他們沒辦法。我們的力量真的僅此而已? 綠色和平相信行動能為環境帶來積極改變。無論是游說政府與企業、在傳媒的鎂光燈下、在燃煤發電廠與企業總部游繩而下懸掛大幅橫額,我們都會堅守「非暴力直接行動」的理念。

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