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Scientists specify boundaries of industrial zones affecting biodiversity in polar regions

It is reported that the noise from high-tonnage vessels affects greatly certain animals, and they have to flee the areas

MURMANSK, December 9. /TASS/. The impact zones, where Nornickel's industrial assets affect the biodiversity on the Kola Peninsula, are not wider than 16 km, scientists said in a report of the Academy of Sciences' biodiversity expedition to the Murmansk Region.

Having analyzed areas around Nickel, Zapolyarny, Monchegorsk and Murmansk, the scientists specified in every location zones of insignificant, moderate impacts and of a reference territory. The experts could not draw exact boundaries, because they depend on very many factors.

"The zones' boundaries vary for every enterprise. If it is a mining and processing plant with limited territory and where the chemical effect is from the tailings storage facilities, then it will be minimal. Within the sanitary protection zone - up to 3 kilometers. That's it, no further impact. If we talk about enterprises that emit various chemical components into the air and water, then everything will depend on the winds. Such a zone may become defragmented, it may be more than 10 km and up to 16 km, depending on which plant or animal is affected," the expedition's leader, the Academy of Sciences' Corresponding Member Viktor Glupov said at the expedition results' presentation.

During the expedition, experts studied also the Northern Sea Route's passage between Murmansk and Dudinka. Onboard research vessels, they were watching animals round-the-clock, and have found practically no impact en route. "Only at ports, we could see synathropes (species of wild animal or plant that lives near, and benefits from, an association with humans - TASS), and at the same time during the voyage we could see also very rare species and those on the Red Data Book. As for the birds, everything is fine with them. The specialists, who earlier worked both in the Antarctica, and in high latitudes, said straightforwardly - the impact is practically none," the scientist said.

However, he continued, the noise from high-tonnage vessels affects greatly certain animals, and they have to flee the areas.

According to Irina Fitzgerald, the project's curator, and a representative of the Ecology Department at Norilsk Nickel, which had ordered the studies, the company will use the expedition results in building out a corporate biodiversity management and conservation plan. "On one hand, the ongoing monitoring, on the other - implementation of certain programs in compliance with the recommendations. The Great Norilsk Expedition has gradually developed into the Great Scientific Expedition. We appreciate importance of the collected information and want to use this best practice in all areas of our presence so that to apply a comprehensive approach and to manage impacts in the areas where the company is working," she said.

About expedition

The Academy of Sciences' Siberian Branch's Great Scientific Expedition to study biodiversity in the areas of impact from Norilsk Nickel's industrial and logistics assets in the Murmansk Region continued for about one year. More than a hundred experts from research institutions and nature reserves worked near cities Zapolyarny, Monchegorsk, Murmansk and near the town of Nickel, as well as on the Northern Sea Route. In 2023, the scientists will continue the biodiversity studies, using already results from the previous expedition.