Emissions from Russia’s nickel industry increases

Sulphur dioxide pollution increased by 15 percent from 2012 to 2013 from Kola GMK's plants in Pechenga. Lenin is overlooking the smelter in Nikel near Russia's border to Norway.

Sulphur dioxide pollution significantly up from Kola GMK’s smelters in Nikel and Monchegorsk. Norwegians measure more heavy metals in freshwater fish near the border.


The figures from Kola GMK, a fully owned subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, show the increase in sulphur dioxide (SO2) pollution from the plants on Russia’s Murmansk region. In 2013, the emission into the atmosphere from the plant in the town of Nikel was 74,978 tons of SO2, up from 63,592 in 2012.

It is the regional environmental group Bellona Murmansk that refer to the statistics from Kola GMK at the organization’s portal.

From the plants in Monchegorsk further south on the Kola Peninsula, the pollution increased from 33,325 tons in 2012 to 36,617 tons in 2013.

In addition, Kola GMK has a pellets plant for nickel-ore in Zapolyarny, a few kilometers east of Nikel. According to Rosstat in Murmansk, the total SO2 emission from Kola GMK’s plants in Nikel and Zapolyarny was 104,000 tons in 2012, making the emissions from Zapolyarny some 40,000 tons.

Larisa Bronder with the Bellona Foundation is an expert on the pollution from Norilsk-Nickel’s plants on the Kola Peninsula.

Bellona advisor Larisa Bronder says there is a mismatch between what the company says and what they do. “Kola GMK is constantly talking about the measures taken to reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide. However, the official figures show that emissions are increasing each year,” says Larisa Bronder.

Environmental officials on the Norwegian side of the border in the north are worried.

The County Governor of Finnmark’s environmental office is this summer measuring increased levels of heavy metals in freshwater fish catched near the border to Russia. The smelter in Nikel is located only a few kilometers from the border to Norway.

Trout on the campfire.

There is more nickel, cobber and mercury in the nature and especially in lakes and sediments in lakes, the officials say to NRK Nordnytt

Helen Andersen is senior engineer at the County Governor’s office. She says there could be two reasons for the increase. “The reasons for the increase could be changes in the production at the smelters on the Russia side of the border. But, for instance long transported pollutants from China could cause the increase in mercury.“