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Tuesday, 19 March 2019 18:16

Got up, washed, clean the Arctic: why volunteers clean uninhabited Islands

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In the Kara sea there is an island in the form of an anteater. Its territory is densely filled with fragments of machine parts and rusty barrels of fuel, which remained after the first wave of development of the Arctic territories of 1960-1970. Vilkitsky island was the next point on the map a great journey, and turned into a dump when supplied by the state objectives were met. The organization "Green Arctic" for the second year conducts expeditions to clean up the island of debris with the participation of volunteers from different countries.


Expeditions to Vilkitsky island in 2017 and 2018 were organized jointly by two companies of NP "Russian Arctic development center" and MOEO "Green Arctic". The first was responsible for the work of scientists and the delivery of the entire expedition to the island, the second directly carried out the cleaning work. Last summer, researchers took samples of soil and water, estimated the volume of debris, and the volunteers started to work.

«Those people had their tasks»

Chairman of the MOEO "Green Arctic" Alexei Rudkovsky explains the appearance of debris on the island.

"In the Soviet years, industrial development of all Arctic territories was carried out, those people had their own tasks. Someone's accusing them now, but I don't think that makes sense. Then I had to quickly open more territories to settle", — speaks Rudkovsky.

For 70 years, barrels of fuel were brought there to fill diesel generators, which consumed 20 liters of fuel per hour. Now no one will remember how many of these generators brought on Vilkitskogo. But the export of containers then did not think, because there was no such task. Volunteers now clean the island for the next "osvaivateley".

"We need to bring the territory in its original form, because when our Industrialists come here, we will be able to tell them: in what state we give you, in this it should remain. Otherwise, they will be able to say: you gave it to us, what do you want from us?"— speaks Rudkovsky.

Expedition to clean up the Islands in the Arctic Alexei calls work on the errors, and this work they are not the first year. In 2012, a group of volunteers went to clean up Bely island a hundred kilometers from Vilkitsky. Then they hands collected 75 tons of scrap metal, but decided that it is possible and more. In five years they collected 1200 tons of scrap metal and other garbage, dismantled 19 buildings unsuitable for operation. Over the years, 150 volunteers from seven countries took part in the work.

«I had to work hard with my hands»

On July 13, 2017, the first expedition landed on the island of Vilkitsky. A group of scientists estimated that it had accumulated 800 tons of scrap metal.

The head of the volunteer movement "Volunteers of the Arctic" Eugene Rozhkovsky says that the volunteers are undergoing difficult tests to be in the squadron, because to work and live in difficult conditions and ask someone to leave the island is physically impossible.

"The guys come loaded, they understand where they are going and what they have to do," says Rozhkovsky.

Women in team not take, so as for work are required a serious physical force and the stamina, and even experienced volunteers for time change of, which lasts 15 days, could losing on several kilograms weight.

"This year, volunteers cleared the polar weather station area, which is about 10 hectares of land, the adjacent territory of the military unit and the entire coastline of the island — 20 hectares of land," says Rozhkovsky. The men collected more than 2,600 metal barrels and 129 tons of scrap metal and stacked it so that it could be conveniently loaded onto a barge and taken out in the future.

Every day with volunteers was on duty one lifeguard MOE, who was watching the security. "Bears came, but this cannot be called a dangerous meeting," recalls Rozhkovskaya. On the island, the problem may not be wild animals, and the weather. While in Central Russia, people suffered from the heat on the island of snow fell, and the wind was blowing with such force that the house shook noticeably. Eugene recalls that one day volunteers worked half the time in the rain, and the second half of the day dried clothes. Sometimes they arranged a day off when volunteers could all walk around the island.

Volunteer Grigory Pokras this summer for the first time was on the island of Vilkitsky, but before that three years went to clean the island of Bely. He recalls that in the beginning he just wanted to be in the wild, so he went to the island of Bely in search of adventure, and then just could not refuse to travel, even despite the very hard work in cruel conditions.

"The format of volunteer projects is something creative that meets my internal needs. People of different professions, with different values and interests take part in such expeditions, but despite this, everyone is United by the desire to make the world around them a little better," says Pokras.

Other members of the expedition also talk about a special unity in the team. Despite the Arctic climate, the island has its own atmosphere, where even work was nice.

"I had to work hard with my hands, we took such a shock pace... at the end of the expedition, the back was a little so tense, I really felt tired," says Pokras and immediately adds that he plans to go to clean up the island of Vilkitsky in 2019.

Volunteer Georgy Andreev has four times traveled with environmental expeditions to the Arctic and wrote a short essay about it. He says that officially a desert island, Vilkitsky love to visit the animals, and behind them, and poachers. For them, hunting among the rare abandoned buildings is a shooting range. Volunteers attracted the attention of the media, so the investigation authorities opened a criminal case on the fact of poaching.

In Andreev's records there are also positive memories associated with animals. For example, once they saved a wounded bear.

"Wounded by the poacher who killed his mother, he came to our base as if he knew that people would help. <...> The poor fellow was caught, settled in an empty house, where they made an aviary for him, and first fed porridge, mixing antibiotics in it, and a few days later, when the animal quickly went on the mend, the porridge was replaced by fish," Andreev writes.

Then zoologists came for the animal and transported it to the Perm zoo, because it could not be left in the wild.

And under the end of the change of to them again went the bear, only personally have participants groups this meeting not caused.

"When we were waiting for the helicopter, the wind blew out from the sea with such force that the old barracks, inherited from the meteorologists, literally pounded with a small shiver, and with another particularly strong gust of wind knocked the front door. Just at this time, in the raging squall and dusk of the night around the barracks in search of food wandered bear with two cubs. We went to bed that night only after we had nailed the door bolt with a hundredth (?) nails, " recalls Andreev.

Collect collected, but not easy to take out

It would be much easier to carry out volunteer programs for cleaning the Arctic if the state allocated funds for this, however, according to Alexei Rudkovsky, the work of the green Arctic MOEO falls into some legal conflict. The Federal program provides for the allocation of funds for cleaning only if the territory is recognized as an object of environmental damage. To do this, the object must be entered in the register of the Ministry of natural resources, but the island of Vilkitsky will not appear in it, because the scale of pollution per capita is negligible, because the island is officially recognized as uninhabited.

"We with the volumes of garbage in the Arctic will never be able to be compared to landfills, for example, the Moscow region. You can forget that some areas of the Arctic will fall into the register of objects of accumulated environmental damage, " said Alexei.

But the work of volunteers continues on their own at the expense of sponsors. Rudkovsky finds it difficult to name the day when all the garbage from Vilkitsky will be able to take out. First, it is extremely difficult to take into account all the factors of cleaning, because the work is carried out in difficult weather conditions. Secondly, it is very expensive — only the rent of the vessel, which will be needed for two or three weeks, will cost 800-900 thousand rubles per day. That is, to recoup the transportation by selling scrap metal will not work.

According to preliminary estimates, the garbage will be able to take out in two or three years. The next expedition will go to Vilkitsky island in the summer of 2019.


Source: https://sn.ria.ru/20181109/1532479936.html

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