"Nord stream" can destroy a wildlife preserve "Kurgalsky"

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Feature story - 20 September, 2012
As of today the Nord Stream AG., in which OAO Gazprom holds a 51% stake, is planning to build a new pipeline via The Baltic Sea to the West.

Greenpeace Russia came to know that it is a top priority for the company to lay a pipeline through the Kurgalsky wildlife sanctuary of Leningrad region, a unique wetland natural area of an international importance (protected by The Ramsar Convention regulations) and belongs to the marine areas subject to Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea.

The wildlife sanctuary is known to experience a significant anthropogenic influence. Throughout 2007-2008 the majority of its territory has been in severe blaze, which touched off large-scale deforestation. It was not until Greenpeace and other nongovernmental organizations interference that the deforestation was stopped. Quite close to the Kurgalsky wildlife sanctuary there is an ongoing construction of Ust-Luga Port as well as its infrastructure, including the future building of oil processing plant and cargo airport. Moreover, nearby boroughs witness constant land-grabbing. Nevertheless, the sanctuary remains to be invaluable. However, the large-scale pipeline construction will inevitably result in its degradation.

As far as Greenpeace knows, the final decision of its construction has not been met yet. The company speculates on alternative ways bypassing the wildlife sanctuary. But experts believe that it is a less preferable choice, for the sanctuary lies close to the main sea route across the Baltic Sea and connected with critical work within the marine area.

The Nord Stream Company is known to favor the variant which will lead to the total collapse of the invaluable natural nook, violating both Russian legislation and the International Law regulations. That situation is very similar to the Altai pipeline case, which Gazprom, despite handling several alternative variants, is planning to lay across the Ukok Plateau, a unique natural area included in the Worldwide Natural Heritage «Golden Mountains of Altai».

One should keep in mind that aside from Gazprom, the joint project Nord Stream involves German concerns such as Wintershall Holding GmbH E, ON Ruhrgaz and Dutch N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie, which unlike Gazprom are more sensitive to all the ecology protection demands.

Mikhail Kreindlin, Head of the natural protected areas program, Greenpeace Russia, said: «We hope that the Russian Government and The Nord Stream shareholders are ready to exercise the upscale nature conservation standards, voiced by them. Because they prohibit any construction process within the most sensitive and valuable areas Greenpeace calls upon all the Nord Stream shareholders to avoid the pipeline construction via the Kurgalsky wildlife sanctuary at the earliest stage. And should the alternative variant is unacceptable, we call on to stop the Nord Stream project, but to concentrate on the alternative energy development both in Russian and in Europe».

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