The Kamchatka peninsula in eastern Russia, known for its rich marine life, is now facing a disastrous marine pollution incident — an ecological catastrophe.
When authorities in the Far East Russia noticed a mass die-off of marine life all washed up on the beaches of Kamchatka, they warned people to avoid the beaches of the peninsula coast.
Videos and images around Khalaktyrsky beach, an area popular with surfers, posted on social media showed carcasses of seals, octopus, and sea urchins lying over the remote coast for several days.
Greenpeace environmental group denounced the incident as an “ecological disaster”.
It is apprehended that the sea creatures, possibly have been victims of a toxic spillage of poisonous substances in underground storage, in a site called Kozelsky since the Soviet era in the Pacific Ocean.
However, the official cause of such pollution has not yet been established.
Greenpeace says that there were “four times more petroleum products and 2.5 times more phenol” in the water than the authorized standards.
“It is strange that it is still not clear what is causing (the pollution), but we only know that it has a very destructive effect on wildlife,” said Vasily Yablokov, Head of Greenpeace’s climate project in Russia, told Euronews.
He added, “Wherever this stain passes, marine fauna is dying on a massive scale … the whole seafloor is dotted with bodies of sea animals. All of our underwater beauty is now grey and yellow, it’s like the fish are cooked in boiling water.”
“We’ve observed a yellowish foam on the ocean surface. The water itself is opaque. In one location we found dead animals. A certain volume of pollutants, not only on the surface but also at depth, moves along the coast”, Vasily Yablokov tweeted.
A number of surfers, divers, and local residents who used the Pacific beaches have reported “strange and unpleasant symptoms” of vomiting, fever, rashes, throat pains, and swollen eyelids.
“We began to see that something was wrong with the water because after an ordinary surf you come out feeling good, but this time it felt like we had burned eyes, we couldn’t even see straight,” says a local surfer Rasul Gadzhiev.
According to the region’s Ministry of Health, at least nine people have sought medical attention since visiting Khalaktyrsky beach last week. Two
The Russian Investigation Committee (RIC) has promised an investigation into this “possible ecological disaster”. On Wednesday the committee said in a statement they’ve lodged an environmental forensic examination.
“(…) due to pollution of the marine environment with oil-containing components, including phenol, a change in the color of the water in the ocean, the appearance of dead benthic echinoderms and marine animals were noted,” the RIC noted.
Pacific Fleet headquarters have denied any involvement in the environmental crisis, a statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The Kamchatka administration website says Russia’s emergencies ministry is investigating the incident. Experts are collecting samples from the beaches and rivers and using drones to help in their analysis.
Greenpeace Russia Campaign Director, Ivan Blokov said that the unguarded poisonous Kozelsky chemical site by official accounts shows that it contains around 108 tonnes of pesticides and poisonous chemicals”.
Kamchatka governor Vladimir Solodov said that volunteers are helping the authorities in their investigation.