Investigators probe 'possible ecological catastrophe' in Russia's Kamchatka region


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 weeks ago  •  14 comments

By:   Yuliya Talmazan

Investigators probe 'possible ecological catastrophe' in Russia's Kamchatka region
Russian investigators said Saturday they were looking into "a possible ecological catastrophe" in the eastern Kamchatka region.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Russian investigators said Saturday they were looking into "a possible ecological catastrophe" in the eastern Kamchatka region, after scores of dead sea creatures washed up in one of it bays and surfers reported burns to their eyes and throats.

Images of dead seals, octopi, starfish and urchins on the Khalaktyrsky Beach in the Avacha Bay have been shared on social media for several days.

Surfers in the area have also complained that the sea had an unnatural smell and color.

Local government in the region, which is known for its pristine beaches and volcanic black sand, shared a video of one surfer, Anton Morozov, on Sunday.

He said a number of surfers have suffered chemical burns to their eyes, adding that he had not seen anything like it in 15 years.

"We need to understand what will happen to our health, to the health of animals," Morozov said.

His fellow surfer, Natalia Danilova, said in an Instagram post Friday that she was diagnosed with a chemical burn to her cornea after spending time in the water in the bay.

Danilova said she had been surfing in the area since August, but three weeks ago she started to struggle with her vision. Others in her surfing group had similar symptoms, while some were also throwing up and complained of breathing problems, she added.

Authorities had not posted any warnings in the area and there had been no official explanation as to what might have caused it, she said.

NBC News has not been able to verify her claims.

Russia's investigative committee said in a statement Saturday that it had sent a team to look into the mass death of marine mammals in the area and "a possible ecological catastrophe."

The committee said there had been reports of increased concentrations of oil products and phenols "from an unidentified source in the sea coastal waters."

"Experts have taken samples of sea water, air and sand, as well as carried out other verification activities aimed at establishing all the circumstances of the incident," the statement said.

Governor Vladimir Solodov speaks on the Avacha Bay coast, in Russia's Kamchatka Region, on Sunday.Alexandr Piragis / Sputnik via AP

Kamchatka Gov. Vladimir Solodov said the ecological situation on the Khalaktyrsky Beach was a "source of serious concern," in a series of videos posted to his Instagram page Friday.

The following day, he posted another video to the social media site calling on all surfers to seek medical help if they had been exposed. Additional water, sand and animal samples from the area were sent to Moscow for analysis, he said. The regional government said preliminary results are expected on Monday.

Thanking local bloggers and surfers for alerting authorities about the situation in an Instagram video Sunday, Solodov said the color of the seawater had evened out in the area and there were no stains on the water that would be indicative of an oil spill.

However, the Russian branch of environmental group Greenpeace tweeted Saturday night that an "environmental disaster" had taken place in Kamchatka and called for an immediate investigation.

"The unique nature of Kamchatka, the UNESCO World Natural Heritage is under threat," head of the climate project with Greenpeace Russia, Vasily Yablokov, said in a statement on the organization's website.

"One of the best surfing beaches in Russia, one of the main tourist attractions of the region is life-threatening and calls into question the development of the region's tourism potential," he added.


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Bob Nelson
1  Bob Nelson    2 weeks ago


I hope there'll be some follow-up. Hoax? Aliens? 

Trout Giggles
1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Bob Nelson @1    2 weeks ago

Do they drill for oil in that region?

1.1.1  bccrane  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.1    2 weeks ago

With 19 active volcanoes, not likely.

And why is it assumed that it is a man made problem, 19 active volcanoes can cause ecological damage also from under sea fissures and slides releasing toxins or just stirring up the sediments in the bottom of the sea.

Trout Giggles
1.1.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  bccrane @1.1.1    2 weeks ago
With 19 active volcanoes, not likely.

Thank-you. I don't know anything about the geography of that region, but active volcanoes are most likely the cause of the disaster.

1.1.3  Freefaller  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.1    2 weeks ago
Do they drill for oil in that region?

Hey Trout just an fyi I was just doing some follow up reading on this and early tests indicate petroleum levels were 4 time the norm and phenol level were 2.5 times the norm

Trout Giggles
1.1.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  Freefaller @1.1.3    2 weeks ago

Hmmmm......maybe I wasn't swimming up the wrong river after all. Thanks for the info

Split Personality
2  Split Personality    2 weeks ago
The Kamchatka River and the surrounding central side valley are flanked by large volcanic belts containing around 160  volcanoes , 29 of them still active. The peninsula has a high density of volcanoes and associated volcanic phenomena, with 19 active volcanoes included in the six UNESCO World Heritage List sites in the Volcanoes of Kamchatka group, most of them on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the most volcanic area of the Eurasian continent, with many active cones. The Kamchatka Peninsula is also known as the "land of fire and ice". [8]

The highest volcano is Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4,750 m or 15,584 ft), the largest active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere, [9] while the most striking [ peacock term ] is Kronotsky : volcanologists Robert and Barbara Decker regard its perfect cone as a prime candidate for the world's most beautiful volcano. [ citation needed ] Somewhat more accessible are the three volcanoes visible from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky : Koryaksky , Avachinsky , and Kozelsky . In the center of Kamchatka is the Valley of Geysers , which was partly destroyed by a massive mudslide in June 2007. [10]

These volcanic features are the site of occurrence of certain extremophile micro-organisms that can survive in extremely hot environments. [11]

Owing to the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench , deep-focus seismic events and tsunamis occur fairly commonly. A pair of megathrust earthquakes occurred off the coast on October 16, 1737, and on November 4, 1952, with magnitudes of ≈9.3 and 8.2 respectively. [12] A chain of more shallow earthquakes were recorded as recently as April 2006. [13] A significant 7.7 magnitude earthquake with a shallow depth of 10 kilometers occurred in the Pacific Ocean, 202 km ESE of Nikolskoye , on July 18, 2017. [14]

Very interesting internet searches. Kamchatka is the most active part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Trout Giggles
2.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Split Personality @2    2 weeks ago

I just looked at the map Wiki provided to see where it is specifically. People surf there?

2.1.1  Ender  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1    2 weeks ago

I had to look too.  Seems like it would be too cold to surf.

2.1.2  bccrane  replied to  Ender @2.1.1    2 weeks ago

Wouldn't that be the warm side of the Pacific, warm water would be heading north along the west side of the Pacific and cold water would be heading south on the east side.

2.1.3  Ender  replied to  bccrane @2.1.2    2 weeks ago

I don't know. Maybe underwater activity warms it up.

The west coast is cold. I went in the water in California as a kid, it was freezing.

Split Personality
2.1.4  Split Personality  replied to  Ender @2.1.3    2 weeks ago

Always a bad idea. And the signs about sharks and rip tides are every 100 yards.

The water isn't warm until LA & San Diego.

Split Personality
2.1.5  Split Personality  replied to  Ender @2.1.1    2 weeks ago

I went to go surfing one time and the other people looked at me and said I needed a wet suit or I would not last 30 minutes

off of PT Reyes CA.

It was probably only 20 minutes and most of that was trying to get all the way back to the car to put the heater on.

Trout Giggles
2.1.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  bccrane @2.1.2    2 weeks ago
Wouldn't that be the warm side of the Pacific,

I don't know. It just seems to me that area is not very far from the Bering Sea


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