A pile of seal, octopus and sea urchin carcasses has been covering the coast of the distant Russian peninsula of Kamtchatka in the Far East for several days, Greenpeace denouncing an “ecological disaster”.
Among the most remote and difficult to reach Russian regions, Kamchatka remained closed until the fall of the USSR due to its numerous military installations, but is increasingly opening up to tourists who came to admire its wild nature. , its volcanoes, its whales and its bears.
In recent days, many testimonies have reported the massive rejection on the coasts of marine animals. “An ecological disaster has occurred in Kamchatka” around Khalatyr Beach, popular especially with surfers, and Avacha Bay, both on the Pacific Ocean, Greenpeace said Thursday.
Analyzes have established that there were “four times more petroleum products and 2.5 times more phenol” in the water than the authorized standards, adds the NGO, specifying that the causes of the pollution have not been established.
On Instagram, Anton Morozov, the director of Snowave, one of the main surf schools on the peninsula, posted numerous images of the damage.
The star of the web Yuri Doud, known for his punchy documentaries, relayed the testimony of Mr. Morozov who affirms that for three weeks, “everyone started to feel strange unpleasant symptoms after having surfed”.
He recounts eye and throat pain and vomiting as a result of “poisoning” by unusually tasting and smelling water.
“Many have started to leave the ocean in a hurry. Symptoms appear even without contact with water ”adds Mr. Morozov, indicating that the“ poison ”would have been carried for a month by a river flowing into the ocean.
“If the people responsible for this event were more courageous, declared their mistake and started rescue operations, the scale could be brought under control,” he said.
Greenpeace claims to have contacted the authorities to “demand an immediate investigation into the causes of the pollution, an assessment of the scale and urgent elimination of the consequences” of the incident while local authorities have declared no industrial accidents or unusual event recently.
Faced with the hundreds of thousands of views and shares of images of animal carcasses on the beach, they first posted on Instagram images of a sunny beach, claiming that “the color of the water is normal, the ‘the smell of the air is normal, the beach is perfectly clean’.
On the spot this weekend, the governor of Kamchatka Vladimir Solodov however threatened with dismissal anyone who would have disguised the gravity of the situation and promised analyzes to establish the facts, via samples sent to Moscow.
The Russian Investigation Committee also promised on Saturday an investigation into this “possible ecological disaster”.
Russian Minister of Ecology Dmitry Kobylkine for his part assured Monday, in an interview with the public channel, Rossiya 24, that no excessive level of petroleum or chemical products had been detected in the samples analyzed.
He raised the possibility of a phenomenon “of natural origin”. “After the storms, there is an increase in the toxicity of microorganisms in this area which causes changes in (the content of) oxygen” causing this kind of phenomenon, very common according to him in the Japanese islands of the region.
Experts quoted in particular by the newspaper Novaïa Gazeta and the public press agency RIA Novosti, however, advance the hypothesis of an extremely toxic rocket fuel leak, heptyle, which would come from one of the many military installations present in Kamtchatka.
The Russian territory, with aging installations dating from the Soviet era, regularly experiences industrial ecological disasters such as the leak of 21,000 tons of fuel into rivers in the Arctic at the end of May, after the collapse of ‘a reservoir of a thermal power station of the Norilsk Nickel group.