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by Sergey Gorshkov from his blogpost

“Our fathers had been poisoned Arctic. In our best to leave it to our children a little bit cleaner”

– Sergey Gorshkov

If you arrive on the Arctic coast of Russia, the first thing you meet – the endless mountains of debris and loose rusty barrels to gorizonta – is above all a giant dump. However, not only military – any attempt at  industrialization polar territories accompanied by horrific pollution.
Wrangel Island, has called a maternity home to polar bears. In addition to polar bears, here in large numbers are encountered polar owl, white geese, dark geese, musk oxen, arctic foxes, walruses and other animals. Now the preservation of natural complexes of the island is provided by the lack of population and geographical isolation. However the organization of State Natural Reserve Area was trying to learn different methods: the factory was established, the separation of the reindeer farm, support a military airfield and base defense.
Every year on the island were imported tons of fuel, which sheds a significant amount of land and coastal waters, heavy equipment, tons of equipment for work, home and food supply of the inhabitants of the village with a population of 200 people. Nothing, except for personal property departing the mainland from the island were not taken out – all the waste, household garbage and dilapidated equipment left on the landfill on the island. Wrangel Island is no exception, but merely an example of the development of North.
Mostly empty barrels were exported in part to the scrap metal: all the same ships that deliver goods to the north, go back empty. But even the removal of scrap unprofitable: for release at least zero, barrels initially be compressed on the shore, and there is usually no press.
Wrangel Island scrap is concentrated on the southern coast, in places where previously there were different organizations: the airport, the base defense, the meteorological station Hydrometeorology, frontier and settlement Ushakovskoe.
Currently, most of the barrels and tanks deteriorated. They left tens of tons of fuel (petrol, oil, diesel fuel). From corroded barrels resets these substances on earth, which leads to contamination of the protected territory. Part of the barrels were stored and thrown to the sea and spits on the banks of rivers. Blurring of the braid and the strengthening storm leads to washout of barrels in the sea, their future is to be thrown on the shore in various parts of the island.

In addition to drums and industrial waste, the Russian Arctic and objects contaminated by poopasnee: all along the Northern Sea Route in an abandoned state is home to hundreds of radioactive power sources – RITEGs used in Soviet times to supply navigation equipment, such as lighthouses. The fuel they use strontium-90, the deadly isotope, the danger remains about a thousand let. On the Wrangel Island similar to the radioactive power source was washed away by sea in the Bay of Rogers. On its own to remove the sources is not possible, it is also extremely dangerous. To search and removal of RITEGs required diving operations and helicopter rental. In 2008, wrote a letter to RosTekhNadzor, but no response to letters sent out had been received. In the case of destruction of housing RITEG it’s possible radioactive contamination of the protected marine area.

In 2004, Wrangel Island was given the status of World Natural Heritage with one condition – clear the area of technical metal and debris. Allowed to leave only a small portion of historic sites is not polluting the protected area, as monuments to the Arctic. Reserve staff on measures of forces and capabilities have been working on cleanup – removal of empty barrels to the storage site. Part of the barrels are exported Associated helicopter flights to the mainland, but it’s a drop in the ocean.

Their funds from the reserve is not enough. Reserve staff are ready to prepare a base, develop technology, to start pressing and storage of scrap metal for further exports, but no press. There are only a small tractor, but it is already an achievement. But most importantly, that the Wranglar island not even includedto the goverment’s programme of cleaning Artic.


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