Greenpeace today cautiously welcomed a statement put forth by Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, stating that Lake Baikal, one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, needs to be protected from the impact of the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM) and stop producing pulp.
Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM)
According to the Russian government's website, Kasyanov said
that in order to maintain the delicate ecological balance of Lake
Baikal it would be necessary "to stop pulp production, to separate
the mill's industrial facilities from the town of Baikalsk, and to
build up an independent waste water treatment for the town."
"Greenpeace is very excited about Kasyanov's statement. But it
remains to be seen whether this is a solid point of action or just
a hollow promise," said Joost van Marrewijk of Greenpeace. "It
looks like the long-lasting appeals of environmental activists to
the authorities have finally succeeded. The dangerous chemical
production on the shore of this unique lake will end and one of the
major challenges of the UNESCO World Heritage Lake will be
Greenpeace pointed out that Kasyanov's statement does not
correspond with the latest official decision to completely stop the
use of chlorine and to implement a 100% closed water loop system at
the BPPM before 2006 with World Bank credit money.
Official decrees to stop pulp production at the BPPM have been
ignored by the State itself, which owns almost half of the shares
of the company, on three separate occasions. Basic Elements
(BasEL), which is another major shareholder since last year and is
one of the largest Russian holdings, is suspected of only being
interested in the US$ 22,4 million credit from the World Bank.
The mill, that started producing in 1966, is almost completely
outdated and located in a seismically active region. "Considering
the Russian economical situation, Kasyanov's statement plus the
complete stop of chlorine use and clear deadlines would be the best
option for now," added van Marrewijk. "This way production and
pollution will be reduced until the BPPM can completely be replaced
by clean alternatives without destroying the local economy or Lake
Baikal. What remains to be seen is what measures will be taken and
when they will be put in place."
Notes: (1) see: http://www.government.ru/data/news_text.html?he_id=15&news_id=10905For background information, see:http://www.greenpeace.org/russia_en/campaigns/intro?campaign_id=153608http://www.savebaikal.org