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Coal Transshipment: Environmental Issues in the Far East
4 September 2019
15:00—16:30
KEY CONCLUSIONS
Coal industry plays an important role in Russia’s economy

Coal shipment, coal mining and coal industry in general in Russia is growing at an incredible pace: every year is record breaking in this industry — Victor Ryadinsky, Expert, Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation; Winner of the Ecology Prize of the Government of the Russian Federation.

Coal is the fourth biggest element adding money to the budget, after oil, gas and metals. That is why Russia mines and exports large volumes of coal. Starting from 2000, coal mining has been on the rise. In 2018, 493 million tonnes of coal were extracted in mines and deposits and shipped to both domestic and foreign markets. <…> Russia is the world’s 6th biggest coal miner and 4th biggest coal exporter — Alexander Agоshkov, President, Pacific Academy of Environmental and Health Sciences; Head of the Department of Life Safety in Technosphere, Far Eastern Federal University .

Coal mining and shipment has a negative environmental impact

Large volumes of coal, bulk freights and dusty freights resulted in environmental problems. You know that they concern Nakhodka, Vanino and Posyet. <…> Coal dust is still a factor that impacts both environment and people — Alexander Agоshkov, President, Pacific Academy of Environmental and Health Sciences; Head of the Department of Life Safety in Technosphere, Far Eastern Federal University .

Russian government and business put special emphasis on resolving coal dust problems

Coal dust caused a major outcry. In 2017, this situation was taken under the President’s control. We have reached the point when environmental problems could not be ignored any longer, it is no longer possible — Yana Blinovskaya, Doctor of Technical Sciences; Professor, Department of Life Safety in Emergencies and Environmental Protection, Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) .

Stevedores have signed high-level agreements with the Administration of Primorye Territory, corresponding ministries, Rospotrebnadzor, the Ministry of Transport and Rosmorport that provided for a number of measures to improve the environmental situation. The budget for all stevedores’ environmental measures in Nakhodka is about 10 billion roubles – it is a significant amount. <…> All stevedores actually implement these measures – it is not a formality. <…> Key measures include irrigation, installing wind screens that reduce kinetic energy in the wind, using substances that facilitate dust consolidation, as well as improving culture of port workers – they all help us minimize coal dust related risks — Vladimir Grigoryev, Member of the Board of Directors, Association of Commercial Sea Ports; General Director, AO Nakhodka Trade Seaport.

Existing measures show results

Rospotrebnadzor’s statistics show that the number of violations detected in air samples went down 3.5 times over the last year. If we take average morbidity level in the region, especially respiratory diseases, Nakhodka has always shown a lower one. We are getting fewer complaints from locals. <…> This means that the President’s instruction on improving the environmental situation in Nakhodka is being purposefully and gradually executed. That is why we must keep on to reach the results, to fulfil the task of the President’s instruction: to create good conditions for the population — Vladimir Grigoryev, Member of the Board of Directors, Association of Commercial Sea Ports; General Director, AO Nakhodka Trade Seaport.

ISSUES
Unresolved issue of open-air coal transshipment

Naturally, dust flows are formed <…>. Taking into account their location and our climate, the wind, the dust is carried towards Nakhodka and Posyet — Alexander Agоshkov, President, Pacific Academy of Environmental and Health Sciences; Head of the Department of Life Safety in Technosphere, Far Eastern Federal University .

No legal framework for closed coal transshipment

The Best Available Technique guidance does not contain the term ‘closed transshipment’, nor are there events that would require construction of hangars that big. We think that this is most probably true. It is important for people to realize that building a huge hangar is not an efficient and effective measure. <…> I have not come across any stevedores transshiping millions of tonnes of coal so far that would have these large closed hangars. I think, it means that they must have thought it through and concluded that it was not a cure-all solution — Vladimir Grigoryev, Member of the Board of Directors, Association of Commercial Sea Ports; General Director, AO Nakhodka Trade Seaport.

There is no legal framework regulating construction of closed terminals like that — Alexander Agоshkov, President, Pacific Academy of Environmental and Health Sciences; Head of the Department of Life Safety in Technosphere, Far Eastern Federal University .

No clear and transparent standards and methods for pollution monitoring

As for bed deposits, the important point worth noting is that there are no existing standards to regulate storage of many pollutants. This makes it difficult to assess the actual situation: what to compare it with, what are maximum concentration limits. Since there are no standards, it is quite hard to draw an objective picture, especially when a large number of water consumers are in the area — Yana Blinovskaya, Doctor of Technical Sciences; Professor, Department of Life Safety in Emergencies and Environmental Protection, Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) .

There is no method of dust coal sampling around coal terminals in Russia so far — Alexander Agоshkov, President, Pacific Academy of Environmental and Health Sciences; Head of the Department of Life Safety in Technosphere, Far Eastern Federal University .

SOLUTIONS
Using best available technologies

The system of information and technical reference books and individual state standards has been created within the past 5 years. <…> As for the best available techniques, some elements have been borrowed from the expertise of other countries. <…> If we take a look at the industry-specific Information and Technical Reference Book 46, we can find a range of solutions that include disposal, toxicity class downgrade. Toxicity class downgrade is decontamination for disposal, a new technology, that is part of national environmental expertise. <…> The list [of the best available technology measures] can be extended. <…> And I think they will comply with the needed requirements, addressing regional environmental and economic factors — Sergey Ostakh, Head, Scientific and Technical Section for Best Available Technique Reference Documents, Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Research for finding most environmentally efficient solutions

If there is no top-level fundamental research or if it is too theoretical, everything will be as usual: excellent technology, excellent regulation, everything is working perfectly well, but when it comes to decision making, half-way and ineffective decisions are made. <…> Every implemented best available technology must be accompanied by sufficient research and development, including experimental in-lab and in-field research — Alexander Shabarov, Professor, University of Tyumen (UTMN); Honoured Scientist of the Russian Federation.

Coal stevedores that are operating around Nakhodka Bay take additional initiative, providing not only scientific data, but also assessment of the effect of anti-dust measures. All this combined provides more efficient ecological argumentation and measures concerning both the environment and health — Yana Blinovskaya, Doctor of Technical Sciences; Professor, Department of Life Safety in Emergencies and Environmental Protection, Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) .

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS