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Raging underground fires in minus 23C near Chita

By The Siberian Times reporter
14 December 2015

Brown coal in disused Soviet deposit burning at a temperature as high as 600C.

The soil is hot to the touch, and people falling are at risk of burns. Picture: Ksenia Zimina

The frozen ground near the city of Chita, capital of TransBlaikal region, is smoking from the fierce underground fires. Local expert Roman Filenko, a researcher at Chita Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology and Cryology, says the Chernovskoye brown coal deposit, has been burning since 2013. 

Exploitation of the deposit was abandoned in Soviet times, although recently locals have sought to restart mining. The fire is smoldering under a road from Chita to the city's airport, causing damage to the surface. A new railway track is also planned above the burning deposit. 

Coal burning underground


Coal burning underground

The fire is smoldering under a road from Chita to the city's airport, causing damage to the surface. Pictures: Ksenia Zimina

Roman Filenko said: 'The problem is that this railway can pass just above the coal seam, so it will not last long and will be insecure. The coal should be just taken away from there, and the hole filled with a special compound, clay rocks that do not allow penetration of water and oxygen. If they do not do this before the rail construction, there will be spontaneous combustion and it will be soon damaged.'

The soil is hot to the touch, and people falling are at risk of burns, it is claimed.

Coal burning underground


Coal burning underground

Grigory Kuksin measured temperatures in fissures and found that at depth the heat is more than 600C. Pictures: Grigory Kuksin

The problem has been highlighted recently by Greenpeace Russia with a visit by the head of the organisation's fire programme, Grigory Kuksin. He measured temperatures in fissures and found that at depth the heat is more than 600C.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources of TransBaikal region Peter Pavlenko said that neither he nor emergency officials had been aware of the underground fires. It was decided to take all the possible measures to stop the fires. 

Comments (1)

and as usual, the people who are supposed to know about these things, know nothing.... 2 years the coal is burning, where have they been?
Benedikt, Moscow,Russia
26/12/2015 23:33
2
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