Pollution is coming out of walls and roofs at the smelter in Nikel near Russia’s border to Norway. Sulphur dioxide and heavy metals damage the nature in the border area. Photo: Thomas Nilsen(Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
Consentration of sulphur dioxide on the Norwegian side of the border notoriously exceeds maximum allowed limits for air quality. The sinner is Norilsk-Nickel’s plants in Nikel and Zapolyarny.
A new report from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) sums up the measurements done over the last year. The report is sad reading for the environment in the borderland. Sør-Varanger municipality has the highest measured concentrations of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in all of Norway.
Also, measurements of heavy metals in the air and precipitations show increased concentrations of trace metals like nickel, arsenic, copper and cobalt from the factory in Nikel.
The pollution from Nikel has for decades been a black torn in the generally good relations between the two neighboring nations.
Measurements in Karpdalen near Norway’s border to Russia for calendar year 2011 show 51 hourly concentrations over 350 micrograms per cubic meter, where the EU and Norwegian legal limit of only 24 exceedences was violated. There were seven daily SO2 averages measured over 125 micrograms per cubic meter. Only three such exceedences are allowed, meaning that Norilsk-Nickel is breaking EU and Norwegian legal limits with their cross-border pollution.
NILU’s samples from Svanvik in the Pasvik vally show the highest precipitation values for heavy metals among all sample stations in entire Norway. Most worrying, trace metals in precipitation increased from summer 2010 to summer 2011, reads the report.
Heavy metals in precipitation started to rise in 2004, and counting.
The highest hourly average of SO measured in the period was at Svanvik with 858 micrograms per cubic meter.
Norilsk-Nickel’s posted a net profit of 81 billion rubles (€2,01 billion) for the period January to September 2012, according to Ros Business Consulting.
The Barents Region has some of the last largest areas of intact natural woodlands in Europe. Scientists, bureaucrats and environmentalists from all four Barents countries cooperate on preserving the forest, but an international initiative is needed.
August 9th, the Barents Region celebrated the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was commemorated in several parts of the region, including Karasjok in Northern Norway and Teriberka in Northwestern Russia.