"Nikel pollution will increase"

Aleksei Tolstykh, director of KMMC, does not agree with Bellona's description of the environmental status of their production. (Photo: Jonas Karlsbakk)

ZAPOLYARNY: The new briquetting plant in Zapolyarny will reduce the total emissions in the Nikel-Zapolyarny area in the future. However, the local emissions around Nikel, 7 kilometers from the Norwegian border, will increase with 30 000 ton of SO2 anually due to increased production here.


The Kola Mining and Metallurgy Company (KMMC) has been working with the new briquetting plant in Zaployarny for several years. Now they are in the last phase of the test period for the plant. This factory will stop the emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in Zapolyarny.

However, even if total pollution will be reduced, the local emissions in Nikel will increase because melting operations will be moved from Zapolyarny to Nikel. In time there are plans for rebuilding the melter in Nikel. At the meeting KMMC director Aleksey Tolstykh said that the reconstruction of the Nikel melter will come in five years time, but no contract for this reconstruction has been signed yet.

- We find it positive that the briquetting plant in Zapolyarny will make pollution go down, but it is worrying that the emissions in Nikel go up, President of Bellona Fredric Hauge said at the seminar.

Different standards
Norwegian environmental organization Bellona had this week managed to arrange a seminar with KMMC, which is a sub division of the Norilsk Nickel company. KMMC presented their future production plans and also invited the Norwegian environmental organization Bellona, representatives from Norwegian administration and journalists to look at the new briquetting plant.

Bellona and Kola Mining Company have different understanding to the extent of the pollution. While Bellona and several researchers from both Norway and Russia presented documentation that the levels of emissions are above what is considered acceptable, the Mining Company says that the company’s emissions are within the demands set by Russian and European authorities.

- We do not understand the concerns of our colleagues on the Norwegian on increased levels of heavy metals. Our emissions have for the latest years been lower than the sanitary norm, said Mikhail Shkondin, head of Kola GMK’s environmental safety division.

He further said that the KMMC-company has taken a conscious choice to keep the environmental emissions on an acceptable level and cooperate close with all our neighbouring regions to meet all demands.

Hauge of Bellona is disappointed that KMMC keep neglecting the seriousness of the situation around their factories on Kola Peninsula.

- Documentation from both Norwegian and Russian authorities show that the situation is far from alright, says Hauge.

Fredric Hauge, President of Bellona
Fredrik Hauge, President of Bellona, in front of the melting plant in Nikel where emissions probably will increase in the years to come.(Photo: Jonas Karlsbakk)

Violated Norwegian law
Tore Flatlandsmo Berglen from NILU (Norwegian Institute for Air Research) presented numbers from their monitoring of the air pollution on the Norwegian side north and west of Nikel and Zapolyarny.

- The emissions of SO2 in the Karpdalen area north of the factories have on numerous occasions been a violation of Norwegian law and of EU regulations on air pollution. This has to be taken seriously by the mining company, Berglen said in his presentation.

Amongst his remarks was the state of the plant in Nikel, where most of the smoke from production comes directly through the building walls and not through the factory pipes.

- The concentration of SO2 and heavy metals are far higher when they are emitted at a low level then at a high level, where a larger part of the pollution is diluted.

He also asked for answers from the plant about why the amount of heavy metals has increased severely over the last four-five years. He has not been able to find an explanation to this, but his question remained unanswered after the seminar.

Deputy Director of KMMC Aleksei Tolstykh replied to all criticism that their company is conscious on their environmental demands in production. He highlighted the large investments they are doing to meet the environmental demands. At the same time he criticized the Norwegion Government for withdrawing the funds from the Nikel cleaning agreement.

- If Norway had fulfilled this agreement we could have reach a situation where Norway did not have to monitor the air pollution any more, Tolstykh said.

Nonetheless they plan on completing the renovation of the plant which was agreed in the program, even though the Norwegian money is withdrawn.

Will continue
In his final remarks Fredric Hauge emphasized the importance of meeting like the one they had in Zapolyarny. It will increase both knowledge and understanding of the situation from both sides. Hauge is very focused on that the minerals they produce on Kola are very important for the world market and that he wants the company to continue this. However, it must be a production without the current problems of pollution.

- We are sure that your company will in time improve your production output if you chose to focus on new environment friendly production. And we will see to that you also do this. We will not give up in this area before we have reached our goal, Hauge said.