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Expert: Arctic buildings’ destruction caused by poor maintenance, not permafrost thawing

Incorrect exploitation of aired basement leads to water accumulation in summer and its freezing in water, according to the research institute director

MOSCOW, August 12. /TASS/. The main reason why buildings in the Extreme North get destructed is poor maintenance, not thawing of the permafrost, Director of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch Mikhail Zheleznyak said in an interview with TASS.

The Academy’s continuing Great Norilsk Expedition will, among other, test the durability of buildings and land beneath them. The experts will analyze whether the spill of fuel in Norilsk was caused by the permafrost thawing.

"It was circulated by the media that a house in Yakutsk got allegedly ruined due to the thawing permafrost. But the true reason is poor maintenance and incorrect exploitation of aired basement (water is accumulated in summer that freezes in winter), which cause destruction of supporting structures," the expert said.

"While currently in Yakutsk the average annual temperature of soils is about 2.5-3 degrees, under properly used aired basements of houses on stilts the soil temperature is minus 3.5-4 degrees," the scientist explained. "Thus, a correctly maintained aired basement is an engineering cooling system."

About expedition to Taimyr

The Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences for the first time in recent years heads for the Taimyr Peninsula at the invitation of Nornickel. The big scientific expedition will study the peninsula to later on present suggestions on how to preserve the nature for industrial companies working in the Arctic.

The expedition’s key points will be watersheds of the rivers Pyasina, Norilka and Ambarnaya and Lake Pyasino. The expedition will work for five months - from July to November. It will feature experts from 14 research institutes of the Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch. By the end of August, they will collect samples of soils, plants and sediments and then will begin working at labs. The first results may be available in November-December 2020.