Subsoil resources must have an owner – Polshvedkin
© RIA Novosti. Aleksandr Galperin

Subsoil resources must have an owner – Polshvedkin

Roman Polshvedkin, Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Komi Republic, spoke about the environmental problems of the region at the panel session, Accumulated Environmental Damage in the Arctic: It will be Late Tomorrow, as part of the 8th International Forum The Arctic: Today and the Future.

The minister pointed out the need to develop inter-regional oil spill response plans and uniform criteria for defining emergency situations in this field. He also proposed changing the standard of identifying tundra areas as polluted by the residual content of petroleum products, and also documenting these figures at federal level.

According to Polshvedkin, the depreciation of the pipeline system in the region is about 60%, and oil companies often hide any small spills in their territories, which definitely affects the environmental situation in the region.

Large wood processing enterprises that discharge waste such as formaldehyde and heavy metal salts cause no less harm to the environment. According to the minister, "it is necessary to protect the Arctic mainland, where garbage is dumped" and make local industrial companies monitor water resources for residual petroleum products and salts of the heavy metals.

He also spoke about the 4,500 ownerless oil wells in the region, tapped in the 1930s and not properly mothballed. Moreover, according to the minister, some of these wells are located under residential and administrative buildings. The conservation or disposal of one such well costs about 4 million rubles, Polshvedkin noted, calling on the federal authorities to help the region in this matter, because "the subsoil is federal property and must have an owner."