Refuses claims that Norway is polluting Russia

Norway is a major polluter to Murmansk, Russian NGO Green Patrol claims. NILU rejects the findings, saying that the factory in Nikel (photo) is contributing to more serious pollution in the area.

The Norwegian Institute for Air Research rejects claims by a Russian NGO that Norway and other western European countries are responsible for nearly half of the pollution in Murmansk oblast.


The survey is based on selective use of data, it was conducted during a too short period of time and it does not throw light on the real causes to pollution in the area, Norwegian researchers say.

Claims Norway is a major polluter in Murmansk
A Russian ecological group called Green Patrol earlier this summer conducted a survey of the ecological conditions in the Murmansk region and in the border areas to Norway in particular. The results of this survey, which were presented at a press conference in Murmansk earlier this month, conclude that 45 percent of the volume of pollution in the Murmansk region is due to cross boundary emissions.

According to Green Patrol and St. Petersburg based research institute Atmosfera, Norway pollutes Russia with 2.4 times more nitrogen compounds than the other way around. The group also said Finland was responsible for more than 2.8 times the amount of nitrogen compound pollution than Russia was responsible for in Finland.

The results of the report were spread widely in Russian media after the presentation.

NILU has “serious scientific objections”
Green Patrol’s conclusions were met with immediate skepticism from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), saying that the report’s claims that 45 percent of the total pollution in the Murmansk region comes from abroad are not documented at all, and that is singles out only nitrogen as an imported pollution.

“According to our observations it is sulfur dioxide and heavy metals that make up the largest pollution problems in the area, and not nitrogen oxides (NOx), as the report suggests”, Tore Berglen in NILU says to BarentsObserver.

Systematic and long-term measurements of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and heavy metals made by Norwegian and Russian research shows that pollution problems in border areas are primarily caused by nickel production on the Russian side – a fact that few on either side of the border dispute, NILU says.

NILU also rejects the report on the basis of the period the measurements were done. - To assess air quality and evaluate sources you need to have long-time series of measurements, as it is not possible to draw any conclusions from single measurements performed over a short period of time, a press release from NILU reads. 

NILU has been monitoring the air quality on the Norwegian side of the border to Russia since 1974. Their Russian counterpart, the state meteorological institution RosGidromet, is responsible for monitoring areas on the other side of the border.  

The pollution from nickel production close to the Norwegian border has for 25 years been a torn in the good cooperation developed between Norway and Russia after the Cold War. The highest precipitation values for heavy metal in the whole Norway have been measured in the Pasvik valley.