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Baikal gets a clean-up - but is enough being done to stop pollution?

By 0 and 0 and 0
30 August 2012


'Do Not Litter' sign on the shores on Baikal. Picture: The Siberian Times 

As the government announces a new funding package of $1.8 billion for the unique lake, over 100 volunteers from throughout Russia and abroad have collected more than 450 tonnes of trash from the shoreline of the unique lake. 

Most was dumped by tourists along a 30 km stretch around the resort of Selo Enheluk and Selo Sukhaya Districts in Buryatia.

'The length of the front was 30 kilometres. Over 100 volunteers came from St. Petersburg and Moscow to Vladivostok, as well as volunteers from Canada and Israel,' said the Baikal Shore International Volunteers' service.


Over 100 volunteers from throughout Russia and abroad have collected more than 450 tonnes of trash from the shoreline of the unique lake. Picture: The Siberian Times 

The group has also successfully tested a 'model for keeping clean' the vicinity of Baikal - an environmental action programme.

Lake Baikal covers 3.15 million hectares and is the oldest and deepest in the world, containing 20 per cent of the planet's unfrozen fresh water.  It is known as the 'Galapagos of Russia'.

Its age and isolation have produced one of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.

'The problem of garbage left by tourists on the coast of Lake Baikal remains a most serious environmental problem,' reported Itar-Tass.

'As tourism is growing, the problem escalates every year. It is caused not only by carelessness of tourists, but also by a lack of modern infrastructures for waste disposal.'

Lake Baikal, Siberia

Tourists rest on the shores of lake Baikal in SIberia. Picture: The Siberian Times 

The volunteers' service added: 'This section of the shore of Lake Baikal bears a great burden from eco-tourism: pollution and household food waste, deforestation of riparian forests, a lack of toilets, (and) violation of the natural vegetation.'

The Russian government has just approved an eight year blueprint entitled 'Protection of Lake Baikal and the socio-economic development of the Baikal natural territory in 2012-2020.'

The aim is the  protection of Lake Baikal and its natural territory 'from negative effects of anthropogenic, man-made and natural factors'.

An ambitious set of targets include 'a significant reduction in the waters of Lake Baikal of contaminated wastewater - to 68.4 per cent in 2020 against 2010; rehabilitation of 80 per cent of the Baikal natural territory affected by high and extremely high pollution; settlement of the problem of unregulated waste storage'.

Stronger efforts will be made to protest Red Book plants and animals, including rare fish. 

Despite these efforts, environmentalists are concerned that permission has been given for the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill to go on dumping sewage into Lake Baikal's pure waters unti 16 August 2013. 

Earlier in August, the Federal Inspection Service  dealing with natural resources permitted an extension of a controversial license permitting effluent to be released into the lake.

The move was taken due to a threat to close the mill which has been beset by financial problems. The mill is the main employer in  Baikalsk.  Talks are underway over a long-term solution but in the meantime this source of pollution will continue for another year.

Comments (4)

China number 1
Jimmy Elo, China
31/05/2018 19:52
Why don’t they just get hoverbords and a trash bag and just ride along the beach.
Billy Jamey, USA
31/05/2018 19:51
What would be a long-term effect for this. I know a short-term would be the lake would be clean for a few months but then the volunteers will die off and the lake will get durty again.
Taylor, Texas
28/03/2014 06:40
Why don't Putin use all people he locks up to do something useful like clearly this garbage instead of rotting in labour camps? I been there once on a trip on Trans-Sib train and Baikal is a stunner -- unique anywhere in the world. Great place. Sickening to see it with so much trash.
Nigel A, Oz
31/08/2012 14:31

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