Ministry of Natural Resources to develop new Arctic “major cleaning” program 
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Trefilov

Ministry of Natural Resources to develop new Arctic “major cleaning” program 

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is developing a new “major cleaning” program for the Arctic, Minister Alexander Kozlov said at a meeting of the Arctic and Antarctic Council at the Federation Council.

He expressed hope that the new cleaning strategy will help clean the region from “rusting barrels and leftover scrap metal.” He also noted the cleaning would help to develop tourism in the region.

“Let’s use Norway’s Spitzbergen as an example: 70,000 tourists go there annually while only 1,000 go to the Russian Arctic National Park on Franz Josef Land. The Russian Arctic is a place where 10,000 rusting barrels have yet to be removed,” the minister said at the meeting.

Kozlov also added that the peculiarities of the north were not considered when a common waste management system was being created, so a problem with solid communal waste arose, and the ministry got down to settling it.

“The second problem related to trash is eliminating landfills on coasts and in national parks,” the minister added.

Kozlov also said man-made accidents were another “sore spot” in the Arctic. He expects that a complex environment monitoring system will play an important role there. The concept was approved by the government. He believes the system will be able to monitor air, soil and water condition and prevent pollution, and that it will also help “bring the study of climate change, in particular melting permafrost, to a new level.”

“A monitoring system was abandoned in the 1990s. Now we have started to restore it step by step, and our task is not just to bring it back to life but also to expand it in order to minimize the impact of natural phenomena and to predict it,” the minister added.

Kozlov added that after the large accident at the heating power plant in Norilsk in May, amendments were made in the legislation which set requirements for companies engaged in geological studies, exploration, production, processing and the transportation of raw hydrocarbons and oil products. Five bylaws must be added to the federal law by the end of the year, from the Energy Ministry, the Ministry of Emergencies, the Ministry of Transport and two from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment expects the Ministry of Finance to draft rules on distributing the fines recovered from the damage caused by environmental accidents, Kozlov said. 

“Corresponding amendments have been introduced to the Budget Code. Accordingly, money is sent to the federal budget and from there it is allocated for use on environmental measures,” the minister noted.