RUSAL, a leading company in the global aluminum industry, and SGK, a power holding and a part of the SUEK coal and energy company, have finally agreed to voluntarily provide the authorities of the Krasnoyarsk territory with online data on their emissions. They are planning to do it step by step.
Wek.ru has repeatedly written about environmental problems in Krasnoyarsk which is among the dirtiest cities in Russia. Old residents remember that the air in the city used to be as clean as at a spa. However, times change. The wartime evacuation and subsequent Soviet five-year industrial plans turned Krasnoyarsk into an industrial center. Today, people are concerned about the quality of life. High living standards are not compatible with nearby aluminum, cement, and machine-building plants, three large thermal power plants, as well as many other big industrial enterprises.
It is obvious that the solution of the problem will take time. Industrial enterprises are deeply integrated in the social and economic life of Krasnoyarsk. Closing the Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter will cause riots, because several thousand people will lose their jobs not mentioning partner companies’ employees. Under pressure from people, eco-activists and stricter environmental laws companies started the process of modernization. It has already been bringing its slow but pleasant results. At the beginning of June, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Krasnoyarsk territory reported that over the past few years, industrial emissions in the region had decreased by 13%. Investments in retooling are the main reason behind positive changes. New up-to-date public transport also played an important role. Outdated models were retired, and most of the bus fleet was converted to natural gas.
According to regional environment minister Pavel Borzykh, air pollution levels in Krasnoyarsk must be reduced by 22% and in Norilsk by 75% by 2024. These goals have been set by the Clean Air project. It is also planned to reduce emissions by planting seedlings of large trees, improving infrastructure and creating a green forest belt around Krasnoyarsk, where the work to shut down low-efficient coal-fired boiler plants is underway. In Norilsk, the Polar Division of Nornickel is expected to implement the ambitious Sulfur Project as the largest contributor to significant reduction in emissions.
The signing of an environmental cooperation agreement between the regional government and RUSAL and SGK is probably the most important news of the past few days. It commits two of Krasnoyarsk's largest polluters to disclosing all data on production emissions and transferring them to the territory's information and analytical system.
This measure is voluntary in Russia. That is why it is often extremely difficult to catch a plant or a factory red-handed as they exceed pollution limits. For instance, the moment benzapyrene leaves the pipe, it is impossible to prove which factory is responsible. A recoding sensor installed in the pipe solves the problem. From now on, Krasnoyarsk’s largest enterprises will have to use them.
“Today, two gas treatment plants at Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Smelter are ready to participate in online monitoring,” the local government press service said. “Sensors will be installed on four more pipes by the end of the year. All gas purification facilities will be monitored by 2024. SGK is also equipping the chimneys of municipal thermal power plants with pollution meters.
“We have been long ready to report in real time, but we were not clear on whom or how to transfer this data. We need it too, because eco-activists are used to blaming plants for everything. At the same time, no one wants to take into account how many small asphalt plants are located on our perimeter,” a KrAZ automobile plant manager said.
One cannot but approve large companies’ initiative to disclose the real data on emissions at their facilities.
“I think that Krasnoyarsk residents have long earned the right, also with the help of the rallies against the “black sky,” to be informed in real time about what pollutants are dispersed in the air above their heads and in what volumes. However, we cannot fail to note a slow pace of the transition to “transparent emissions.” The sensors are just being installed on the chimneys of Krasnoyarsk cogeneration plants. The aluminum smelter expects to launch full monitoring only by 2024. In the next three years, we are not likely to get a complete picture of air pollution by the largest Krasnoyarsk enterprises because the emissions from pipes without sensors will definitely not be added to online monitoring data,” Krasnoyarsk environmental organization Plotina CEO Alexander Kolotov said in an interview with wek.ru.