Nord Stream’s overground section will run through nature reserve area in Karelian Isthmus
Gazprom announces that Mustajoki River flowing into Bay of Vyborg has been reopened
Construction of the above-ground section of the planned Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is well under way, even though the definitive permission for the structure has not been granted yet.
The gas pipeline’s environmental effects on the Baltic Sea have been studied thoroughly, but its superterranean portion on the Russian side has not provoked wide discussions with regard to its environmental impact.
“The pipeline will run through the southern part of the protected Äyräpäänjärvi region. Fortunately not through the centre of the region, but still, building anything anywhere in a nature reserve area should not be possible”, says environmental researcher Aleksandr Sutyagin.
In his opinion the land area overrun by the pipeline should have been removed from the scope of the protection scheme, and respectively an area of equal size should have been added to the northern end of the nature reserve.
The international environmental NGO Bellona has also criticised Gazprom’s aloofness and strange methods of calculation. In a May discussion event, the company estimated that the construction work would only cause around 10,000 roubles (EUR 230) worth of damage to protected areas.
According to Sutyagin, other risks include the ruining of the landscape, the explosion hazard, and the gas emissions from the Portovaya Bay compressor station. The powerful station, the operating pressure of which will be 220 bars, will be without equal in Russia. The station will pump gas into the two pipelines lying side by side at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, causing the gas to travel the entire 1,200-kilometre distance to Greifswald in Germany.
Furthermore, the pipeline’s overground route is marshy and difficult to build on. In the ground there is still unexploded World War II ordnance.
“Gazprom should be commended, though, for digging a tunnel for the pipeline under the Neva River. They could have crossed the river by using cheaper, old technology”, Sutjagin says. He also points out that the environmental dangers presented by a gas pipeline are smaller than those with an oil pipe.
In September, researchers from the Southeast Finland Regional Environment Centre noticed that the pipeline builders had blocked the Mustajoki River, which flows into the Bay of Vyborg in Russia. According to the researchers the feeder pipe leading to the compressor station had been placed beneath the riverbed in such a way that logs left in the river were blocking the migratory route of the salmon trout that the river was famous for.
“Only preparatory work had been carried out at the Mustajoki River. Now all our tracks have been erased, and the water flows freely”, defends Gazprom Invest Zapad managing director Mihail Levtšenkov. The company is responsible for building the overground section of the Nord Stream pipeline.
According to Levtšenkov, the company will also build a tunnel under the Saimaa Canal. “The economic crisis does not affect our work.”
At the end of 2010 the feeder pipe should be ready for operation.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Gas pipeline construction blocks river in Vyborg (8.10.2009)
Nord Stream mine clearance operation delayed in Gulf of Finland (20.11.2009)
Nord Stream (Wikipedia)
Gasprom Invest Zapad