Arctic Cleanup Continues

Snow starts falling in Yamal in September, and average temperatures are already below zero. Source: Press Photo

Snow starts falling in Yamal in September, and average temperatures are already below zero. Source: Press Photo

Bely island, a Soviet-era dumping ground for industrial waste, is getting a new lease on life thanks to a program sponsored by a local governor.

On Bely Island, the northernmost point of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, a general cleanup that began last year at the initiative of District Governor Dmitry Kobylkin is continuing. This summer, 33 volunteers cleaned up eight dilapidated buildings and two large reservoirs for preserving petroleum. They collected and loaded onto barges nearly 300 tons of scrap metal.

Dmitry Golikov, one of the volunteers, said the participants in the program had to undergo special training before starting the cleanup effort.

“The working conditions that awaited us were extreme,” Golikov said. “Even in the summer, the air temperature is low — no higher than 7 degrees Celsius. The physical labor is hard and, above all, there are a lot of polar bears.”

Since the cleanup began in 2012, volunteers have cleaned 60 percent of the island’s area of trash that had accumulated
during the Soviet era. Kobylkin said that work will continue in the future with the end goal of restoring more than 500 hectares of land. After the cleanup is completed, there are plans to create an international center for Arctic ecological research on the
island.

The Bely Island cleanup is part of the Russian government’s policy in the Arctic region, which, in addition to ecological efforts, includes investment projects and the revival of the Northern Sea Route linking European and Asian ports.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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