Photo of the Kamensky quarry
Authorities plan to place waste landfill near Sochi’s drinking water sources
Russian officials appear to finally give up on solving Olympic Sochi’s waste problem, despite promising in initial stages of development a program of ‘zero waste’ and showcasing the Summer Games in 2014 as the green Olympics.
As EWNC recently became aware, officials in Sochi’s Krasnodar region met with Russia’s natural resources and environment minister Yury Trutnev late last year (http://www.ewnc.org/files/sochi/tbo/2011-12-21_MPRE-protocol.pdf), and decided to move a controversial waste landfil to the mountains of Sochi, right near several sites of drinking water intake that feed half of the city’s population.
Previously, the dump was planned near Uch-Dere village, but residents staged several protests and clashed with the police last year over having to live near the waste site (http://www.ewnc.org/node/7761). According to a source in the natural resources and environment ministry, it was the Krasnodar region administration who wanted to move the dump yet again to a new location.
The new location is a former quarry near the village of Galitsino, which lies near the Mzymta river in the southern part of Sochi. The Kamensky quarry has been used as a source of construction materials for the development of Olympic venues. According to the meeting’s minutes, the ministry will order to stop mining the quarry and to allocate money to turn it into a landfill.
The Kamensky quarry lies in the porous limestone topography right next to two active sites of water intake. According to the Sochi city plan, this area falls into the sanitary protection zone of Mzymta river underground water reservoir. The reservoir, which stretches along the river and provides water for the majority of Sochi’s population. There is also a trout farm in this area.
Sanitary norms forbid placing sources of chemical or bacterial pollution into zones of sanitary protection. However officials must have decided that calling a giant new landfill “modern environmentally safe waste polygon” will protect people from toxic waste runoff.
Moreover, a decision to place such a landfill near Galitsyno village was done without any public discussion with local residents, in violation of Russian environmental regulations.
The new site picked by the regional authorities is the most dangerous of other options that have been previously proposed. The possibility of polluting the Mzymta river and the groundwater reserves with toxic waste runoff is especially worrisome, because of the local karst topography and the extremely porous rock around the proposed landfill site.
The decision to place the landfill in the Mzymta basin goes against the Olympic Committee’s previous pledges to protect the river and to ‘conjointly restore its ecosystem’ after massive development as recommended by UNEP experts.
Suren Gazaryan, EWNC
Plan with the location of the new landfill and water intake sites on the Mzymta river