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Volunteers, businesses should participate in the Arctic’s cleaning — experts

The Arctic regions lack resources to make big cleaning

ST. PETERSBURG, December 6. /TASS/. Russia’s Arctic regions lack money and resources to make big cleaning - the Ministry of Natural Resources has an inventory of littered territories, where 102 locations are beyond the Polar Circle. Realistically, the number is much higher, experts say, adding cleaning of the waste, which had been growing in the Arctic since the time the Polar territories were explored, would require involvement of volunteers and businesses.

Inventory of dumps

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergey Yastrebov told the international forum - Arctic: Present and Future - in St. Petersburg the waste left from extraction of resources is the biggest problem. The forum’s experts said the number of littered territories is much higher and authorities of the polar regions are not active in forming their inventories.

"The regional officials prefer not to speak about these problems - about landfills or other waste disposal areas in the Arctic," the deputy minister said. "The officials are trying to leave this problem to their followers or wound hold with announcing the problem until another political situation."

However, the regions are unable to clean the territories without attracting money from the federal budget due to the high expenses for those purposes. Experts suggest financial limitations to the regions if they refuse to fill in the inventories.

"The federal budget should be financing only the facilities on the inventory," director of the Environment scientific-research institute Sergey Fokin said.

According to the experts, who participate in the forum, since the inventory does not give a true picture, it is still unclear how much money the cleaning in the Arctic could require or how long the work may take.

Filing lawsuits

The parliament’s head of the ecology and environment committee Vladimir Burmatov told the conference fines are not effective in fighting dumps, since it is most often absolutely impossible to find the one responsible for the pollution in the Arctic.

"Only very few cases on environmental breaches are being investigated or get to the stage of court hearings - most of them simply expire or they are closed because investigators cannot identify persons responsible for the pollution," the legislator said.

The regional supervisory authorities usually are not watching how the ecology legislation is observed by the working enterprises. "Despite the regulations in the laws, regional supervising authorities do not register the facilities, responsible for violations," he continued.

Thus, he said, local authorities should be working harder to reveal environmental violations and should bring the cases to courts - without waiting when federal authorities, like the Prosecutor General’s Office, begin considering those violations.

Money added to money

Experts stressed, regional authorities should be more active in announcing problems in the ecology, they should not be waiting for financing from the federal budget, but should find sources of this financing.

Deputy head of the State Duma’s committee on regional policy and problems of the North and the Far East Vladimir Pushkarev says - with the limited budget allocating money should be for those regions, which have managed to attract other financing to settle the ecology problems.

"We should consider the region’s opportunities, while allocating the money," he said. "The priority should be for those, who have managed to attract money from businesses."

Attracting volunteers

The forum’s experts also stressed the importance of more active attracting of volunteers for cleaning the Arctic. "The law on volunteers should be improved - we are talking much about attracting volunteers to the Olympic Games or the World Cup, and keep forgetting the ecology volunteers have been active for many years already," legislator Vladimir Sysoyev of the State Duma’s committee on natural resources, property and land said, adding there is already a line of those who want to go to the Arctic to participate in the cleaning there. "They simply do not have any other opportunity to travel to the Arctic, as going there is very expensive," he explained.

About the forum

The seventh international forum - The Arctic: Present and Future - is working in St. Petersburg on December 4-6. This time, the event’s key topics are development of the Arctic backbone zones, and the social and economic development of the Polar territories. The forum’s organizer is the Association of Polar Explorers inter-regional non-governmental organization.