Recently, the Deputy Chief Engineer for Ecology and Work with Indigenous and Minority Peoples of the North, Head of the ALROSA Environmental Center, Polina Anisimova, visited the city of Yakutsk. We met up with her to find out the answers to the most frequently asked questions of Yakutia's residents firsthand.
- Polina Sergeyevna, let's start with the urgent matter. What activities will be carried out from 2019 to protect and rehabilitate the rivers of Yakutia, where the production is located?
- I just want to note at once that not all production ALROSA is located on the rivers of Yakutia, but only alluvial deposits of Irelyakh placer and diamond placers of Almazy Anabara. The main production, processing plants and tailings are located far from water bodies and are not communicated with them.
If we are talking about the precedent that occurred in August 2018, then it is necessary to initially understand that this was an emergency situation. The flooding of the Irelyakh placer deposit and the erosion of the enclosing dams occurred for reasons beyond the control of the Company - due to heavy rainfall, which significantly exceeded all possible and predictable norms. This event is classified as a natural disaster, and refers to force majeure.
Despite the fact that ALROSA is not guilty of what happened, we are ready to help correct the situation. As has been repeatedly reported, from this year ALROSA will contribute 150 million rubles to the Fund of Future Generations for environmental projects. In addition, there is an environmental program of the Company itself, to which ALROSA will allocate 30 billion rubles over 5 years.
Of course, we make adequate conclusions. One of the first moments is the revision of the project documentation, according to which the field facilities are being arranged. The revision of the documentation involves the formation of the stream diversion channel, so that it has a large capacity and can be brought beyond the perimeter of dredged objects.
If we talk about planned activities, it is mandatory to monitor all water bodies that somehow fall within the Company's impact zone - Aikhal, Udachny, Nakyn sites, Mirny district. This is a monitoring of the qualitative composition - not only surface waters, but also including upstream and downstream, as well as in adjacent territories. Starting from this year, the Company starts monitoring studies also at the borders of the sanitary protection zones on a regular basis.
The Irelyakh river flows in the perimeter of Mirny, and like any other water area, it is a favorite place of the city residents for picnics, they often leave refuse behind them. Therefore, for 2019, the Company is planning a series of environmental events 'oBEREGai prirodu' (Protect the Nature).
- How is the state of the rivers monitored, do you cooperate with any laboratories? After all, the Company's laboratory data is one thing, but people would like to see the data of the third-party laboratory.
- Of course, the surface water quality is monitored continuously. This is a prerequisite, because any water use contract - in terms of water intake for technical or household needs, drinking water, or for discharge of treated wastewater - is subject to monitoring. Moreover, the monitoring program is not just internal, it is coordinated with the authorized executive body in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). As part of the program, we certainly work with our own laboratories. There are four industrial sanitary laboratories in the company, at each Mining and Processing Division. Including environmental analysis laboratory based on the Yakutniproalmaz Institute. All laboratories have modern equipment and accreditation certificate. The scope of accreditation covers a fairly wide list of pollutants. ALROSA also constantly participates in joint research projects. Starting from 2017, a program of joint comprehensive research with the Ministry of Ecology of the Republic is being drawn up. Specialists of the Company and specialists of the Ministry, who attract their specialized laboratory, conduct joint sampling. Therefore, we can say that there is a double control.
It is also worth noting that the Company, despite this intensity of emotions and a lot of negative information, which was constantly kept discussing in various messengers, still remains open. Over the past six months, ALROSA facilities were visited by a large number of representatives not only of the executive authorities, deputies, but also representatives of public organizations and popular fronts, the media, bloggers, and even just Good Samaritans. Almost every visit of social activists was accompanied by sampling by laboratory assistants with whom they came.
But, unfortunately, there are not so many accredited laboratories in Yakutia, mainly the laboratories of the executive authorities such as the Republican Information and Analytical Center for Environmental Monitoring (a specialized laboratory of the Ministry of Ecology of the Republic), The Center for Laboratory Analysis and Technical Measurements (the Rosprirodnadzor profile laboratory), the Laboratory of the Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology of the Rospotrebnadzor.
- The Company pays great attention to the protection of natural areas in the places of production and the preservation of biodiversity. We are already well acquainted with what work is being done to conserve wild populations of reindeer. Tell us more about the activities on the artificial reproduction of fish, from this year on this part the work should have been strengthened.
- That's right, we can already state that it will be strengthened. But the situation is complicated due to the fact that everything related to stocking activities is strictly regulated by current legislation. Even if we, guided by some good purpose, decide to go and release fish into a particular water body, you and I will be brought to justice, because each object is strictly regulated in terms of the mass and types of aquatic biological resources. As of 2019, only four water bodies are allowed for stocking in Yakutia: Vilyuiskoye reservoir, Svetlinskoye reservoir, the Lena River and the Yana River. Today, it is impossible to legislate the stocking of the Vilyui River or, for example, the Markha River. We appealled to the Federal Agency for Fishery (Lena Territorial Administration) with a request to allow the release of larvae into the Vilyui River, but the law is still the law. There are, of course, solutions, which are connected with the fact that the list of allowed objects can be expanded. To do this, it is necessary to provide a fish-biological study (research work), only the relevant laboratory or center has the right to carry it out. In Yakutia, such an authorized body is the Yakutsk branch of All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, with which the Company concludes an agreement in 2019 to conduct research and prepare a study on the possibility of releasing valuable fish larvae (fry) into the Vilyui River and the Markha River. As a result of this work, a recommendation will be prepared to the Federal Agency for Federal Fisheries Agency to include stocking the Vilyui and Markha rivers in the plan for 2020-2022. We at least count on it.
For 2019, we have increased the mass of aquatic biological resources produced, this information is publicly available. Within the framework of the annual stocking program, the Company will release 1,205 million peled larvae into the Vilyui reservoir, and 0.357 million Siberian cisco larvae will be released into the Lena River. In this work, we cooperate with the Chernyshevsky fish-breeding farm, the beginning of joint work was initiated in 2013.
The effectiveness of ALROSA’s annual stocking work can be judged by data of the State Committee of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) on Arctic affairs, which show that the peled capture quota for 2016 was 4.9 tons, and in 2019 increased to 23 tons.
- The ALROSA environmental protection program, in addition to reindeer and fish, speaks about the protection of the animal and plant world in general. We know about the Living Diamonds Park of Yakutia. What other work is being done by the Company to preserve biodiversity?
- You know, desire alone is probably not enough for one simple reason - there is a limited scope of both work and resources. Why the Company focused its social and environmental activities on the support of wild reindeer and aquatic biological resources - because at least these are the two main traditional industries for Yakutia. We are happy to join any program that would be initiated at the level of the republic. For example, today the Ministry of Ecology, Environment and Forestry of the region is considering tremendous ornithological work. And we have already discussed that there will be an appeal from the Ministry to the Company for rendering assistance. We are working with the direction that is very important at the moment for residents of Yakutia who lead a traditional lifestyle.
- The topic of industrial emissions into the atmosphere does not lose its relevance. In recent years, much has been said about the greenhouse effect and climate change. And what work is the Company doing in this part?
- The problems associated with global climate change were under a magnifying glass of the whole world at the turn of the 21st century. Issues to reduce the mass of greenhouse gases are discussed at the highest levels.
Back in 1997, in addition to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, which obliges developed countries and countries with transition economies to reduce or stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. In Russia, the Kyoto Protocol was ratified in 2004.
The Paris Climate Agreement has been adopted to replace it. It has not yet been ratified in Russia, but at the same time the Company is, of course, focused on international standards working with western partners
Two years ago, ALROSA successfully launched a long-term program to convert special equipment to blue fuel, which contributes to reducing the mass emissions of pollutants with the greenhouse effect and converting boiler houses to oil.
According to the total mass of greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalent (for 2015) in the Russian Federation, published in Bulletin on the current trends of the Russian economy, the mass of greenhouse gases from the Company is about 0.034%, which is next to none. Among its peers, ALROSA is a company with a minimum amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of output.
- Paying special attention to the environmental component of production, the Company provides training and professional development of employees. Tell us about environmental education, social and environmental activities.
- High qualification of employees is the key to successful and high-quality work. Today, the legislation of the Russian Federation is changing with such enviable constancy that each new year brings more and more questions, therefore, training and advanced training in the field of environmental protection, environmental management, and subsoil use takes place on an ongoing basis. About 200 people each year undergo training both on the basis of the Personnel Training Center with invited experts, and under individual programs at training centers in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Novosibirsk. They are trained in the environmental management system, the rules and norms of water use, the protection of natural resources, industrial environmental monitoring and supervision, and much more.
In 2017 (the Year of Ecology in the Russian Federation), ALROSA, for the first time implemented large-scale social and environmental measures aimed at different age groups of the population: the Give Nature An Eternity ...photo contest and the Green Sakha - With Love For Nature creative competition and exhibition, and the competition among the youngest preschoolers I Am A Small Part Of The Big World. It was especially nice to receive the cordial response of schoolchildren. A positive result allowed us to conclude that this direction is working, it is interesting for the younger generation as well.
In 2018, the Company for the first time in Yakutia joined the international campaign Let's do ...!. This civil action was held in September, its goal is to unite the citizens into one team and take the first step on the way to a clean country - one-day cleaning in our city.
Socio-environmental activities are also planned for 2019. A unique action - One Day of An Ecologist. There is an Environmental Center established in February 1, 2018. But not everyone knows and understands who the ecologist is and what kind of work he does. We made a decision that in Mirny within the framework of this action, high school students would be introduced for one day into the work of the Environmental Center. This Center has a department for environmental protection, a department for the protection of natural territories and work with indigenous peoples of the North, a department for design and control and analytical work. Two or three students will be attached to these departments of the Center. And they will spend the whole day (from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm) at production facilities, sites, production meetings, will carry out the work of an ecologist, learn to make decisions. So that tomorrow’s student could understand today that the ecology is not just pictures with the words Peace to all the World or some kind of routine office work; that this is a heavy production, unique objects, and painstaking scientific work, and the euphoria of successful work. I am sure that this event will push many schoolchildren to choose the profession of an ecologist and to consciously approach the choice of their future profession.
In the framework of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, we will hold a review contest Language of Ancestors, which is focused on preserving and enhancing the folk traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Republic, support cultural level and development of creative abilities.
The action Say No to Plastic, the opening of the Ecological Alley in Mirny, the support of the Green Pioneers of Yakutia and much more will be implemented this year.
- In Yakutia, civic activity is fairly high, recently the role of non-profit organizations has increased, the result of which is various grant competitions. Does the Company cooperate with any environmental non-profit organizations? Are grants allocated, as large Russian companies do?
- Yes, of course, using the example of innovations, we decided to put this relationship on a permanent basis. ALROSA is a socially responsible company, so every year at the Supervisory Board level a list of gratuitous deals and sponsorship contracts is approved. Environmental projects are also included in this list.
An agreement has already been signed with the Directorate of Biological Resources and Specially Protected Areas of the Ministry of Ecology, Nature Management and Forestry of the RS (Y) to conduct an assessment of the current state of tundra populations of wild reindeer of Yakutia.
It is planned to sign an agreement with the National Fund Bargary (Revival) of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to publish books, magazines and booklets on environmental topics, and create a feature film on environmental protection.
This year ALROSA will also support and sign a donation agreement with the Living Diamonds of Yakutia Natural Park.
- And finally - a hot topic for the residents of Yakutia. Today, the issue of housing and communal nature is being actively discussed, more precisely, an innovation - Garbage Reform, recycling of Solid Household Waste. Not everyone has understood what it is and what will come of it. And what work do you do in terms of waste management, in terms of the fact that the diamond company is a magnet around which the city was built?
- Today, waste disposal facilities of both production and household waste, which would have been entered into the state register of waste disposal facilities, can be counted on the fingers in the republic. This is really a problem of republican significance, that there are no objects that would be constructed and placed in accordance with the current requirements. The second problem is the absence of the waste disposal industry in the republic (recycling, reuse).
The Company is a responsible user of natural resources and places waste at its own facilities (all the waste disposal facilities of the Company are included in the State Register of Waste Disposal Facilities or transfers to a regional operator, the Mirny Housing Enterprise.
The Company must provide for selective collection of waste (by hazard category, by state of aggregation, and by the degree of potential use).
Part of the waste, such as waste oil, is used as secondary energy resources. The overburden rocks are used for construction and planning purposes, used automobile tires are used as supports (for waterways and slurry pipelines), safety fences. Another part of the waste is neutralized at thermal installations.
This year we have announced a big competition for the disposal of used automobile tires, a special condition for the competition is to obtain useful products from waste. This is one of the Company's ways to deal with the amount of waste sent to disposal.
Interview by Viktoria STAS’