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Scientists to study how Arctic’s oil-polluted soil reacts to climate change

Cleaning has been underway on Franz Josef Land since 2012

ARKHANGELSK, July 1. /TASS/. Scientists will analyze how the climate changes influence oil-contaminated soils on the Franz Josef Land Archipelago. The studies will be conducted on the islands, where oil spills occurred in the past at military and polar stations, the Russian Arctic National Park’s Director Alexander Kirilov told TASS.

"We shall have studies to see how oil products have spread into the soil on Franz Josef Land," he said. "This work will be done by the park and the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geography."

"We want to understand whether and how the climate changes influence the pollution, how the oil products migrate at the levels to which the permafrost thaws," the director said. "Those contaminated areas formed when the islands hosted military and polar stations."

Cleaning continues on Franz Josef Land since 2012 - more than 45,000 tonnes of waste have been removed from the islands, and soil has been revegetated in the areas of oil products’ spills.

"The revegetation has been done well, but we want to improve what has been done," the director said. In summer, as the permafrost thaws, remaining oil products may go deeper into the soil. "We want to study this problem, which is going to be typical for the entire Arctic."

"We are trying to see how those processes develop," he added.

Cleaning has been completed on Franz Josef Land’s Alexandra Land, Hooker, Heiss and Graham-Bell Islands. Cleaning is due on the Rudolf and Hofmann Islands.

The Russian Arctic National Park is Russia’s northernmost and biggest nature reserve, which takes the area of 8.8 million hectares. It was organized on June 15, 2009. The Park includes a northern part of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago’s Severny Island and the entire Franz Josef Land Archipelago.