06:38 GMT28 January 2021
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    The plant in question is in the vast lands of the Irkutsk Region, with Lake Baikal and the affluent Angara River just a short distance away. The authorities have accused its owners of total ignorance about the ecological repercussions of their business activity after leaving the plant in shambles having fully exhausted its resources.

    Svetlana Radionova, the head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, has warned about another catastrophe similar to one at the Chernobyl nuclear plant that shattered Pripyat, in Soviet Ukraine, in 1986.

    One of the questionable locations is that of the factory “Usolyekhimprom” in Russia’s Irkutsk Region, which, she admonished when speaking to the newspaper Izvestiya, saying the country may face a global ecological disaster unless it is re-cultivated.

    The factory manufactures chlorine and other chemical substances, and, according to Radionova, has been completely “pumped out” by its owners, who’ve left everything to the mercy of fate. More specifically, the official remarked, the plant is in urgent need of de-mercurisation, due to heavy mercury pollution in the area.

    To illustrate the point, Radionova recounted a collection of flasks containing unspecified chemically dangerous substances stored in the factory premises. Part of them, she went on, retain pressure, while no one knows what exactly is inside.

    “They pumped oil refinery wastes into boreholes which once had salt solutions in them. There is the Angara River flowing nearby, and it’s crystal clear that if such a borehole exploded, the river would be all polluted”, the head of the federal service warned, calling for prompt action.

    She noted it is not the only case of owners neglecting industrial infrastructure, adding they frequently try to avoid responsibility - in the case of declining profits – by re-registering the object under the name of some temporary firm.

    On 26 April 1986, a severe explosion hit the fourth reactor at the massive Chernobyl plant near the city of Pripyat, then-Soviet Ukraine. The town was entirely evacuated two days later, with hundreds dying of nuclear contamination days, months, and years later. According to the WHO estimates, the death toll from the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe is a whopping 4,000 people.


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