MURMANSK – Russia’s federal environmental and resource use watchdog, RosPrirodNadzor, is carrying out its first so-called “planned inspections” in nearly four years of the Kola Mining and Metallurgy Combine (KMMC’) facilities, the controversial Kola Peninsula daughter company of industrial giant Norilsk Nickel.
The checks of the infamously polluting works are taking place in Monchegorsk, Zapolyarny and Nikel, all the cities in which the KMMC operates.
Ruslan Tischenko, head of the Murmansk Region’s division of RosPrirodNadzor, said the KMMC is under special scrutiny by his agency for its heavy emissions of heavy metals, specifically sulfur dioxide. The KMMC releases some 100,000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere annually.
The planned inspections will include not only representatives from the local RosPrirodNadzor, but from the higher Northwest Federal District branch as well as the central division in Moscow.
“During the planned inspections, which take place once every three years, [the KMMC’s] observance of atmospheric and water facility legislation will checked, as well as adherence to [legislation] on production emissions and usage rates,” Tischenko told Bellona in an interview.
The inspections began on June 16 and will continue for 20 days. The KMMC was given three weeks notice of the inspection prior to its beginning.
Tischenko said that during the last inspection in 2010, RosPrirodNadzor inspectors discovered 14 violations and levied administrative fines totaling about 3 million rubles ($30,000).
“At that time, RosPrirodNadzor gave the KMMC six months to fix the violations and the company complied with the agency’s demands within the required time,” Tischenko said.
Despite the fact that neither the Murmansk Regional nor federal offices have any information regarding such in-depth inspections from that time, Tischenko told Bellona that, “All discovered violations [discovered during the current inspection] will not pass without administrative action, and the results will be made available to the general public.”
Last year’s inspection
In the winter of 2013, the Murmansk Regional division of RosPrirodNadzor, in conjunction with local prosecutors, carried out an unannounced inspection following a complaint lodged by Oleg Mitvol of the Green Alliance People’s Party, and former RosPrirodNadzor deputy chief.
The regional Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring agency determined that the KMMC’s emissions of sulfur dioxide exceeded established norms every day during the inspection.
But RosPrirodNadzor told a different story. It said an independent laboratory had carried out measurements emissions along the edges of the KMMC’s industrialized zone showed no excessive emissions where measured.
The same independent laboratory will be taking emissions measurements during the current planned inspections.
The KMMC is on of the most problematic and polluting enterprises in the Murmansk Region. The KMMC payments for negative impacts are the highest of any industry in the area and routinely reach as much as 30 million rubles ($875,000) annually.
Bellona will be following developments of the KMMC inspection.
The report was translated and edited by Charles Digges (firstname.lastname@example.org).