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Jobs or the Environment: Lake Baikal Paper Mill Re-opened

10. May 2010 by Admin 0 Comments

Photo by Sergey Saurskiy

Included on the United Nation’s World Heritage List, Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest freshwater lake, holding roughly 20% of the planet’s fresh water. For decades, environmental groups have fought to preserve this natural treasure. Despite their efforts, Prime Minister Putin has amended environmental law to allow the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill to operate on its shores again after a shutdown 2 years ago. The mill, built during the days of the Soviet Union, dumped toxic waste into the lake and sulfates into the atmosphere.

The reason for the reinstating of the mill is that 9% of residents in the city of Baikalsk (1,400 people) worked at the mill and had been suffering hardships ever since the mill closed. The Mayor of Baikalsk has pledged that scientists will monitor and help monitor the lake and only depend on the mill for 4-5 years. “I saw a dead town,” Mayor Valery Pintayev told NPR.

Activists are in full force, protesting against the mill and calling for Putin’s resignation. The next step is to petition the UN to help Moscow see the error of their ways.