"Dirty" history of futile promises

Page - 20 July, 2010
Concise chronology of official records related to the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill at Lake Baikal

Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill in 2003, still producing, still bleaching with chlorine

1954 - 1956. The executive authorities of the USSR by order of the former State Committee on paper and woodworking industry, adopted the resolution on construction of the BPPM;

1958. The city of Irkutsk. The Conference on Industrial Development of Eastern Siberia pointed out that the pulp-and-paper industry couldn't provide for its wastewater purification guaranteeing the acceptable pollution level of the Baikal;

1959. Moscow branch of the USSR Geographical society carried out a special meeting on the Baikal protection. The meeting declared the Mill's construction to be inadmissible;

1960. The Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers adopted a resolution on constructing the BPPM; the RSFSR Council of Ministers passed Resolution No 652 "On Natural Resources Protection and Management within Lake Baikal Basin". The Resolution prohibited acceptance and commissioning of the Baikal Mill and the Selenginsky Mill without arrangements providing for purification and neutralization of their wastewater;

1965. The USSR Council of Ministers passed the resolution "On Lake Baikal Protection from Wastewater of Baikal Pulp Mill of Eastern Siberia Economic Sector". The resolution reads: "... it is inadmissible to disturb the purity of Lake Baikal and fishery economy by wastewater discharge from the Baikal pulp Mill...";

1969. The USSR Council of Ministers passed Resolution No 52 "On Natural Resources Protection and Management within Lake Baikal Basin". According to the resolution the entire basin of the lake was conferred the status of a water protection area of special natural management. The Resolution also determined personal responsibility of authorities for the implementation of arrangements for the Baikal protection;

1971. The Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers adopted Resolution No 391 "On Supplementary Arrangements for Lake Baikal Natural Resources Management and Protection"; the resolution reinforced the monitoring of the previous resolutions implementation;

1973. The USSR Ministry of Water Management adopted "The Provisional Standards of Protection of Lake Baikal Water and Natural Resources of Its Basin";

1977. The Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers adopted Resolution No 679 "On Subsequent Arrangements for Lake Baikal Natural Resources Management"; the resolution strictly determines that the discharge of untreated wastewater must be stopped by 1985;

1987. May 12 the Central Committee of the CPSU passed a special resolution "On Responsibility of Officials Guilty of Failure of Previous Resolutions on Protection Arrangements of Lake Baikal Basin"; it acknowledged the failure of the crucial provisions of different resolutions since 1969 and stated that "...the pollution of the unique reservoir and its environment continues...";

1987. The Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers adopted Resolution No 434 "On Arrangements for Lake Baikal Natural Resources Protection and Management in 1987 - 1995". The resolution was to stop the wastewater discharge into the lake in 1988, to commission the compensatory pulp production facilities in Ust-Ilimsk in 1993, and alter the Baikal Mill's production line - to launch a furniture production there;

1990. The RSFSR Council of Ministers adopted Resolution No 93 providing for the pulp cooking stoppage and altering the Mill's profile into an environment-friendly production in 1993.

1992. The Russian Federation Government adopted Resolution No 925 on altering the Mill's production line and establishing the compensatory pulp production facilities by 1995. The Ministry of Economy, the Mill as well as the State Industry Committee and the Ministry of Nature of the RF were directed to set up an international contest of projects for environment-friendly and economically sound technologies to alter the Mill's profile. The resolution provided for a number of environment protection targets. Purifying facilities of Baikalsk-town, rehabilitation of slime ponds and elimination of the huge "lens" of polluted ground water must have been finished by 1996. The resolution allowed for the annual pulp production of 160 thousand tons until the final altering of the Mill's profile.

1994. The Russian Federation Government adopted Resolution No 1306 "On Complex Federal Program for Lake Baikal Protection and Its Natural Resources Management". Once again the resolution stated the considerable negative impact of the Mill on the lake and acknowledged the failure of previous resolutions, including Resolution No 925 of 1992 on altering the Mill's production line.

1996. Upon the Russian Government application the UNESCO listed Lake Baikal into the "World Heritage". The unique lake obtained the highest environmental status and came under safeguard of the International Convention "On Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection" ratified by the Russian Government. In the first address to the Russian Government, the director of the World Heritage center expressed his concern about the lake's pollution by discharge and emissions of the Mill;

1999, president Boris Yeltsin signed the Federal Law adopted by the State Duma "On Lake Baikal Protection". The law prohibits any chemical production on the lake's shore and any chemical pollution of the lake. On the one hand, it was a unique legislative statute protecting a specific natural object, on the other hand it was a framework law which needed a number of supplementary directives. Most of such directives are not adopted yet.

1999. The Russian Federation Government passed Resolution No 1203-p on developing legislative documents concerning the Federal Law "On Lake Baikal Protection". In particular the resolution prescribed to develop standards for "environmental zoning of the Baikal natural territory" as early as 1999.

2000. March 28, President Vladimir Putin ordered the RF Government to promptly develop a Complex Program for the Mill's profile altering "to terminate the wastewater discharge at earliest possible date". The program was developed, and in summer 2001 it was examined by the experts' commission. The conclusion was negative. Of the Program's three stages the experts acknowledged only the first stage as admissible - to terminate the wastewater discharge by introducing a closed water supply cycle.

2000. The Russian Federation Government passed Resolution No 839-p allocating the resources for the target fund for lake Baikal protection, in particular the resolution provided for construction of separate purifying facilities for the town of Baikalsk;

2001. The Russian Prime Minister M. Kasyanov approved by his Resolution No 643 "The List of Activities Prohibited within the Central Environmental Zone of the Baikal Natural Territory". Pulp and paper production without a closed water supply cycle was prohibited. Although the borders of the "Central Zone" are not approved yet despite the Government's Resolution No 1203-p (1999), the industrial site of the Mill located 100 meters away from the lake's shore will be subject to the Central zone standards in any case.

2002. The Russian Federation Government passed Resolution No 207-p confirming the list of Federal construction sites and objects financed from the Federal budget; once again the resolution provided for construction of separate purifying facilities for the town of Baikalsk;

2003. July 25, the Russian Prime Minister M. Kasyanov made just another statement on the prompt altering the Mill's profile, terminating the pulp production and constructing the purifying facilities for the town of Baikalsk.   2005  - BPPM owners (Continental Management Timber Processing Company and "BazEl"  Holding by Oleg Deripaska) demand additional financial sources and offer new project of the re-profiling. World Bank stops its participation in the project. The new project is never been worked out. Under authorities' pressure the BPPM agrees to consummate the project of the closed water cycle on the enterprise. That is just a halfhearted measure and does not resolve other environmental problems. 

2006 - On November 27th the Decision of the Government of the Russian Federation №1641-r "About approval of the Baikal natural territory borders and its environmental zones" is made.  

End of 2006 - beginning of 2007 - The process of re-profiling and of closed water cycle consummation does not move from the dead point despite all assurances of the Mill owner. The term of project termination is July 2007. There appears the information about plans of the enterprise management to widen the production with conservation of the sewage discharge either to Baikal or to the neighboring rivers.

April 2007 - There appears the announcement about transfer of terms of the closed water cycle system consummation due to the unavailability of the Baikalsk municipal treatment facilities. The new term of consummation of the closed water cycle is 15th of September, 2008.

October 2007 - Greenpeace conducts investigation of the perspectives of the BPPM production widening till 320 thousand tones annually. The results of the investigation prepared by the innovation projects expert from the High School of Economics are deplorable. "The expert analysis of the presented materials had shown that the concerned project in the contemporary financial conditions of the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (existence of the considerable account payable and foreseen growth of timber prices) is economically insolvent. Thus the activities of the enterprise private owner are dictated by the non-economic motifs. It is not possible to hope for the project realization".

Summer 2008 - The "Continental Management Timber Processing Company" Public Corporation announces that the solemn ceremony of the closed water cycle consummation on the BPPM will take place 5 days earlier than the time-frame i.e. on the 10th of September, 2008. But it does not occur. Initially the terms are moved to the 29th of September and later are cancelled at all.   

October 2008 - BPPM announces about the temporary production stopping in connection with the lack of raw materials. The date of the Mill launching is fixed on the 31st of October. But practically at once it is announced about reduction of nearly 200 BPPM workers and is indicated that the mill can not be profitable in the conditions of the closed water supply system functioning. 

End of October 2008 - The "Continental Management Timber Processing Company" Public Corporation announced about BPPM temporary closedown until it will receive the permission for the resumption of the waste waters discharge into Baikal. The hostages of the situation are the workers as well as Baikalsk residents. BPPM promises to leave them without heating during winter. At the end of October the Mill was closed. 

2009 - The whole year the Mill was closed against the continuing disputes about its opening. Neither the BPPM owner nor the Federal authorities did practically anything for the Baikalsk residents that found themselves in a rather complicated situation. At the end of the year the "principal" decision about the resumption of production was made on the governmental level. 

2010 - The first governmental decision signed by V.Putin became the document that allows renewing the discharge of the BPPM poisonous drains to Baikal as well as to store, bury and burn the dangerous wastes on its shores.

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