What’s blowing in the wind is a business secret

The Secret of Chimneys - pollution from the smelter in Nikel contaminate the nature in the Russian, Norwegian border land.

Norwegian Minister of Environment was not successful in establishing an annual routine with reporting the emission from the mega-polluter in Nikel. Russia replied that the discharge according to the legislation is a secret.


The emission from the smelter in Nikel was put on the agenda at last month’s meeting of the Norwegian, Russian Government Commission for economic cooperation in Oslo. That did not ended successfully. 

The Commission has two times earlier agreed to establish a working group to report on the progress in the attempts to reduce the emission of sulphur dioxide and heavy metals. Both attempts have failed, despite originally initiated in 2010 by (then) President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Norway’s Minister of Environment, Bård Vegar Solhjell, says the main reason for the failure is because Norilsk-Nickel don’t want to cooperate. 

“An effort was done on the Commision’s meeting in Oslo on June 11 this year to introduce a routine annual reporting to the Commission’s meeting. That did not succeed, because emission figures are considered to be a business secret under Russian law,” writes Minister Bård Vegar Solhjell in an answer to Parliament Member Ivar Kristiansen. Kristiansen wanted to know what the Minister will to do in order to hold Norilsk-Nickel responsible for contaminating the Norwegian side of the border.

Cecilie Hansen, Mayor of Sør-Varanger municipality across the border from Nikel, announced some few weeks ago that she wanted to lay charges against Norilsk-Nickel on pollution crime. 

“I fully understand the frustration people in Sør-Varanger feel against a polluting company in Russia that does not care about either the environment or the health of those who work and live in the border area. But, I believe it can be difficult to get results by raising the case in court. Despite the setbacks we have had in this case, I believe it can only be solved through political dialogue,” says Bård Vegar Solhjell.

The Norwegian Minister of Environment disscussed the Nikel pollution with Russia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Sergey Donskoi, when he visited Oslo in June.

The smelter in Nikel is notoriously violating the maximum allowed limits for air quality on the Norwegian side of the border. Before becoming a secret, it was believed that the annual emissions of sulphur dioxide from the smelter in Nikel was around 90,000 tons.