This blog supports and follows the work of Baikal Environmental Wave, an NGO based in Irkutsk, Siberia. Baikal Wave have been working to save Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world, since 1990. See our recent posts for updates on their work.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Pulp production in Baikalsk begins anew, polluting Baikal in its wake

The Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill made a test batch of bleached pulp in a system of open-water circulation, according to a factory spokesmen. The representative of BPPM did not specify when the plant willl start to boil the bleached pulp on an industrial scale.

The Mayor of Baikalsk Valery Pintaev reported that production of bleached pulp, which is the main pollutant of Lake Baikal, should begin "either today or tomorrow."
Earlier it was reported that the mill will start producing bleached pulp from the 31st May. The company received the necessary permits for work using an open-water circulation system on May 21.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Medvedev calls for new approach to the environment

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, at a meeting with government officials and ecologists on Thursday, has demanded a fresh approach to the way the government and industry treat the environment, seemingly distancing himself from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"Ecology is moving to the bottom of the agenda. In a crisis you have to pay people. Who cares about ecology? This is our mental problem," Medvedev said. "The problem is the attitude of the leadership of the country to ecology."

Medvedev declared that Prime Minister Putin's decree no.1, which allows for the reopening of the polluting Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill on the shore of Lake Baikal, is not final, indicating that there may be hope for a reversal of a decision which has outraged ecologists and Baikal residents alike. He also rejected any suggestion that criticism of Putin's decision was taboo, indicating that the issue is far from settled.

He also called for legislation on the environment to be tougher, and demanded transparency of businesses in regards to industrial waste and pollution.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

New SOLAR POWERED interactive centre takes shape at Baikal Wave

Work has already begun to convert the Baikal Wave's former library into an interactive centre on renewable energy, which will be powered by Solar energy.

Upon completion, the centre will provide a valuable resource for the community. As a long standing supporter and advocate of the international Eco-Schools program, Baikal Wave hopes that there will be many school trips to the centre in order to enthuse the next generation to take steps to ensure a healthy and sustainable future.

As aforementioned, the centre will be powered by solar panels, which have been installed just below the office's balcony, and will feed the suns energy into an accumulator, which will be clearly visible in the centre. Amongst many other interactive activities, there will be a stand where visitors will be encouraged to create their own energy using a specially formulated bicycle.

(Solar panels)


Monday, 24 May 2010

New rally for the defense of Baikal takes place in Irkutsk, 21st May 2010

"Together for a clean Baikal!" - It was under this slogan that a rally was held on the 21st May in Irkutsk. Around a thousand people gathered on Square Kirova to express their concern about the environmental problems facing Lake Baikal.

The aim of the meeting was to draw attention to the threat of pollution to the world's 'fresh water well', as Baikal is often referred to. Participants explained that the relaunch of the Pulp and Paper mill, which will start anew the dumping of toxic waste into the lake, exists as the biggest problem facing Baikal.

The main demand made by the assembled to the president was the abolition of order № 1, passed in on the 13th January 2010, which lifted the ban on the dumping of hazardous waste of the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill into Lake Baikal. Irkutsk residents also addressed the Regional Governor and urged him to fulfill his duty to the people of the region and prevent the re-launch of dangerous industry.

The Governor of the Irkutsk Region and the mayor of Irkutsk were invited to the rally. The organizers offered them the opportunity to come and express their position on one of the most acute problems of the region. However, no representatives of the authorities turned up.

Participants declared that the demands of the various rallies in defense of Lake Baikal which have been held in different Russian have being ignored. However, they will continue their struggle for the purity of the unique lake.

There was also good news. The day before the rally, news arrived of a similar situation in St. Petersburg, where the authorities were planning to build a huge skyscraper in the historical part of the city, contrary to will of citizens and violating the Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. President D, Medvedev took the side of the public and demanded strict observance of Russia's international obligations, and to prevent harming Russia's reputation. Environmentalists have expressed the hope that the same position will be taken in respect to Lake Baikal as a World Natural Heritage site.

At the rally, a new song 'My Lake Baikal' by Irkutsk authors was presented. There was also a small performances involving a huge man with bloodied hands, symbolizing the greed of businessmen, and environmentalists, who beat the anti-hero.

Organisers decided not to hold the planned march, so as not to block roadways in downtown Irkutsk.

Instead, the protesters passed a banner around the circle and joined hands to symbolize that they would be ready to protect the lake using a human wall.

Videos of the rally can be viewed HERE:

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Flash mob takes place in defense of Baikal

On the 7th of May, a flashmob appeared in Irkutsk in defense of Lake Baikal. A group of young people, assembled on Karl Marx Street in the city centre, symbolically offered passers-by the chance to drink the 'pure water' of Baikal containing traces from the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM).

All passersby, refusing to drink the water, were given small leaflets which explained that the main source of pollution of Baikal is the BPPM.

Despite the fact that the water was simulated and coloured with harmless, drinkable dye, no-one agreed to drink it. However, everyone willingly took the leaflets, of which around 200 were handed out in total.