Major emission source uncovered in NW Russia
Fertiliser plant leaks enormous amounts of eutrophicating phosphorus into Gulf of Finland
A large and hitherto unknown source of nutrients straining the ecosystem of the Baltic Sea has been uncovered in Northwestern Russia.
According to the information obtained by Helsingin Sanomat, on the south coast of the Gulf of Finland, close to Kingisepp, there is a fertiliser plant from the surroundings of which enormous amounts of phosphorus are leaking into the Luga River and subsequently into the Gulf of Finland. Phosphorus causes eutrophication in water systems.
The new source of emissions was uncovered in connection with a Finnish-Russian research project, in which Finnish researchers have exported knowhow into Russia for example with regard to monitoring water quality. While at it, the researchers took water samples at possible risk locations.
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission HELCOM will discuss the follow-up measures called for by the extensive phosphorus contamination at a meeting held with Russian authorities in St. Petersburg today, Wednesday.
“This is a new and regrettably extensive emission source”, Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö (Green League) told Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday evening.
Before issuing further comments, Niinistö wants to hear the results of the negotiations held with the Russian authorities.
In any case, Niinistö considers it a good thing that the actual emissions to the Baltic Sea are charted, for the discovered amount of phosphorus that ends up flowing from the factory into the Luga River is much greater than was previously thought.
“It is very important that we receive researched information with regard to the actual phosphorus emissions”, Niinistö said.
According to HELCOM information officer Johanna Laurila, the Luga’s phosphorus concentrations have been elevated since 2008, after which efforts were put in place to determine the source of the emissions.
The actual research results, however, Laurila does not want to disclose before the St. Petersburg meeting.
The latest discovery is a major setback for the protection programme of the eutrophicated Baltic Sea, which has just started to bear fruit and which was hoped to begin to brighten the Baltic Sea water, which suffers from algal blooms every summer.
St. Petersburg, which has thus far been putting the greatest strain on the vulnerable enclosed sea, is now starting to get its house in order, and the metropolis’s enormous wastewater renovation project will be completed next year.
By then nearly all of the city’s effluent will be directed to an effective decontamination plant.
Thanks to the measures put in place in St. Petersburg, the phosphorus emissions that cause eutrophication in the Gulf of Finland have been reduced by nearly 30 per cent in less than a decade.
The reduction has been expected to be manifested even in the algal blooms in the next few years.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Sewage treatment leaves toxins in waste water (17.1.2011)
One year on, Baltic Sea commitments have remained unimpressive (11.2.2011)
Countries make few binding commitments at Baltic Sea summit (11.2.2010)
Improved St. Petersburg sewage treatment reduces pollution in eastern reaches of Gulf of Finland (27.8.2010)
Protection of Baltic Sea losing steam; ministerial meeting in Moscow fails to reach its goals (21.5.2010)
Baltic Sea needs urgent attention (14.4.2008)
Baltic Sea (Wikipedia. Please note that Wikipedia is blacked out for 24 hours on 18.1.2012 in protest against planned U.S. legislation on online piracy and intellectual property rights)