Sulphure dioxide clouds over Barents Summit

The nickel plant in the Russian border town of Nikel was not on the agenda in this week's Barents Summit in Kirkenes.

KIRKENES. As top politicians assemble at the Barents Summit in Kirkenes to elaborate on a future for the Barents Region, the nearby Nikel plant has another day with limit-breaking emissions.


When Dmitry Medvedev visited Oslo as president in April 2010, he indicated that a deal was in the making for the heavily-polluting nickel plant located only few kilometers from the Norwegian and Finnish borders.  As reported by BarentsObserver, the Russian President signaled that Russia would contribute with necessary efforts to reduce the pollution from the plant.

However, on his return to Norway three years later, Medvedev silently bypasses the problematic environmental hot spot. Speaking in a conference hall located less than 50 km from the Russian border town, the premier does not with a word mention the nickel plant.

Paradoxically, at the very same time, the Murmansk Hydrometeorological Monitoring Authority informs that sulphure emissions from Nikel on 4 June exceeds the allowed norm by more than four times.

The only top politican touching on the nickel plant at the Barents Summit was Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt who said that “unfortunately nothing has changed in Nikel”.

For the past 20 years, the plant in the Russian border town has repatedly been the key subject of intensive, albeit resultless, negotiations between environmental authorities from the neighboring countries. The plant, a unit of the powerful Norilsk Nickel company, has annual sulphure dioxide emissions of about 90,000 tons, about five times the total Norwegian emissions.