Ecological safety of lake Baikal under threat

The world wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia stands for the soonest amendment of the law on the protection of lake Baikal, aimed at ensuring environmental safety of the region. About it as the correspondent "of Rosbalt", said at a press conference on Thursday, Director of conservation policy of WWF Eugene Schwartz.

According to Schwartz, the boundaries of the Central ecological zone of the Baikal natural territory must coincide with the boundaries of the catchment area of the lake, which is known to be a world heritage site by UNESCO. "In addition, a legislative ban on ecologically unjustified economic activities in the vicinity of lake Baikal", — said Director of conservation policy WWF Russia. The story of the pipeline Eastern Siberia-Pacific ocean (ESPO) showed that decisions on implementation of major economic projects are often taken without considering the national interests in favor of specific economic entities.

"For three years "Transneft" did not bother to work out and submit for discussion an alternative pipeline. The Ministry of natural resources, the Ministry of transport and Ministry of economic development actually withdrew from solving the problem, in result it took the intervention of the President," recalled Schwartz. Your task at this stage of WWF Russia believes that control precise execution of the agreement on the withdrawal of the pipeline beyond the watershed of lake Baikal and to prevent a return to the original version of the route.

Recall that the pipeline Eastern Siberia-Pacific ocean (ESPO) is the second largest infrastructure project in Siberia after a Baikal-Amur highway. The total length of the ESPO pipeline will amount to 4 thousand km. 188 Investor, Builder and operator of the project is JSC "Transneft".The first phase of construction of the ESPO pipeline will cost is $6.65 billion, and the total cost is estimated at $11.5 billion was Originally planned that the pipeline will be 800 metres from the shores of lake Baikal is in a seismically active zone. This caused numerous protests of inhabitants of the Baikal region, from local authorities and environmentalists, who spoke about the danger of pollution of the lake in the event of an earthquake.

President Vladimir Putin in late April at a meeting with heads of Siberian regions, in Tomsk ordered a section of the ESPO oil pipeline in the North suburbs of lake Baikal outside of the intake and seismic zones — more than 40 km from the lake.In the next two months, Transneft will determine a new route. Feasibility study for it has not yet been developed, it will take a few months. Additional costs of "Transneft" the oil pipeline on the new route is estimated at $1 billion.

Baikal is one of the oldest lakes of the world, his age has about 20 million years. It is the deepest lake in the world (1637 m). The volume of water in the lake about 23 thousand cubic kilometers, accounting for 20% of global and 90% of Russian reserves of fresh water. The lake is home to over 2,600 animals and 1 thousand species of plants. The coastline is about 1 thousand 850 km, area of water mirror — 31 470 sq. km.



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