Tuesday, Oct 27 2020
All Cities
Choose Your City
'Baikal…I have never seen water that clear in my life'
Ian Frazier, 2013

Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach

By Svetlana Skarbo, Anna Liesowska
03 October 2020

Surfers raised alarm after once pristine waters caused major problems with eyesight, fevers and throat aches.

Ecological catastrophe at the Kamchatka peninsula. Picture from the Khalaktyrsky beach by Kristy_Rozenberg

The black volcanic sand of Khalaktyrsky beach - one of the gems of the Kamchatka peninsula near its largest city Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky - is littered with hundreds of dead sea animals, from deep-sea Giant Pacific octopuses, to seals, sea urchins, stars, crabs and fish. 

The Pacific Ocean waves, once favoured by local surfers and loved by tourists, now have a strong toxic smell; water colour has a clear yellow tinge. 

The strongly-bonded community of local surfers signalled trouble with the beach three weeks ago, saying that they had a burning sensation in their eyes, strong headaches, often fevers, throat aches and a feeling of losing eyesight after getting out of the water. 

Now it emerges that even staying close to the water makes a poisonous effect, posing in pictures of gas masks. 

They continue to dive to update on the state of sea animals, bringing devastating news that the once thriving underwater life is gone, with even the strongest shells that could tear wetsuits lying open, dead. 

Seals behave as if in a trance, they said, refusing to dive and spending as long as possible on the surface. 

Below, pictures by Vladimir Solodov show sample taking at the Khalaktyrsky beach outside Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach 


Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach 


Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach 

Checks by the regional Ministry of Natural Resources showed there was a spike in levels of phenols (2.5 times) and oil products (3.6 times).

Urgent investigation into the cause of water contamination was ordered today by Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Far Eastern federal district Yury Trutnev.

Two versions are discussed so far, with one being recent military training at Kamchatka causing the ecological catastrophe. 

Another is leakage of oil products and phenol from ships passing through the Avacha Gulf. 

Ecological catastrophe at the Kamchatka peninsula. Video from the Khalaktyrsky beach by Kristy_Rozenberg

Earlier today several local residents published satellite pictures shared by Greenpeace Russia, showing a yellow-coloured river flowing into the Pacific Ocean. 

There is a military training ground upstream, they said. 

‘We are getting new information every hour; just recently we received satellite pictures from @greenpeaceru of the river that flows into the ocean and that evidently killed everything.

'Up the stream there is a military training ground. Knowing how the system works and how these kinds of questions are getting hushed, we must do everything in our power to save the ocean right and to defend from a catastrophe in the future’, wrote one of the surfers under the nickname Yola_La. 

‘Our beautiful underwater world is now colour grey and yellow. Fish looks like it’s been boiled. Even the strongest shells that could tear a diving suit fell off the rocks. The scariest of all is that we don’t know what to do, how to help. I am looking at the stunning sunset over the Avacha Bay, knowing that its bottom is covered with dead sea animals’, another local called Kristy_Rozenberg wrote. 

Satellite picture shared by Greenpeace Russia, dating to the beginning of September 2020

Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach 

Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach 

Greenpeace today demanded an immediate investigation into the reasons for the contamination.

The scale is not yet determined but the fact that the dead animals are found all over the coast confirms the seriousness of the incident, says the ecological campaigning group.

'Eye witnesses said that water at Khalaktyrsky beach has changed colour and is no longer safe for people’s health,’ said a statement. 

‘For weeks people have reported feeling a white veil in their eyes, dry eyes, worsening of eyesight, and throat ache. 

‘Doctors registered eye corneal burns. Many people who have been in with water also show symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, high fever, which may indicate phenol poisoning.’

The stunning black sand volcanic beach before the poisoning. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Ilyas Abkadyrov

Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach 


Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach 


Eco disaster at Kamchatka peninsula with mass death of sea animals at precious Pacific beach 

The head of Greenpeace Climate Project in Russia, Vasily Yablokov, called for immediate action to contain, clean and prevent further pollution.

‘Khalaktyrsky beach water pollution has already led to the death of sea animals and poisoning of people. 

‘The unique nature of Kamchatka, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, is under threat. 

‘One of the best surfing beaches in Russia, one of the main tourist attractions of the region is now life-threatening…’.

Comments (19)

LOCAL PEOPLE SHOULD GATHER JARS OF THE WATER, GET GREENPEACE TO ANAYLIZE THEM. FUKUSHIMA HAS DEPOSITED FALLOUT ALL OVER THE GLOBE, THE MOLTEN CORES ARE STILL BURNING IN THE EARTH. DID THEY ''ACCIDENTLY'' DUMP THE WATER IN THE TANKS? DID THE FILTRATION SYSTEM BREAK, RELEASING TONS OF DEADLY WASTE? THE CURRENTS WOULD CARRY IT THERE, AND THE DEAD ZONE WOULD EXTEND SOUTHWEST. FUKUSHIMA HAS DECIMATED SALMON POPULATIONS IN THE US AND CANADA! THE PACIFIC HAS SEEN MANY HUGE DIEOFFS OF BIRDS, FISH, AND MANY OTHER SPECIES DUE TO THE RADIOACTIVE POISONS RELEASED BY FUKUSHIMA.
RICK, USA
14/10/2020 21:33
3
2
I was just watching Yuri Dud's fantastic documentary about Kamchatka (from this June), and remembered seeing something about a mass die-out of marine life on Channel 1 news and the Weather Channel today. This breaks my heart for the community of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky: they were struggling for the well-being of their community on so many fronts. Dud's documentary pointed out that Kamchatka receives relatively little federal aid and investment from the Russian government. Now, before they can address the myriad infrastructure and quality of life issues, they'll have to invest in clean-up and environmental remediation. But how will they ever make up for what was lost?! ( and fish is a primary food source on the peninsula).
Lynn Patyk, Norwich VT
14/10/2020 00:22
1
0
So the President of Russia is sending an envoy to the region to investigate? Why can't he show up himself & show the people that he really cares, see the damage & tell them that he's going to do something immediately to investigate same. I mean, his military are near at hand sure he could ask are they to blame? And if yes or no is the answer... for them to come & clean it up anyway. As regards ships leaking phenol & other products in Avacha Gulf, well they have been traveling through there for donkeys years & this only started happening 3 weeks ago. It must be terrible for the people who live there to see a natural treasure turned into a nightmare yellow/green poisonous mire. And who knows if natural sea habitat will ever return there. No wonder with our human disregard for nature, pandemics are flying wild.
Jaker, Dundalk
13/10/2020 10:51
1
0
A community of intertidal organisms that evolved to be in harmony with each other and their environment have been decimated. Likely human induced. What a tragic waste. This will have unforeseen and long lasting negative impacts for the greater ecosystem. When will we ever learn?
Pat Kilroy, California
11/10/2020 09:41
4
0
posting here something, assigning blame without knowing ALL the facts, it is so easy.- red bloom- an algae - invasion - is now being also considered. and Russia was not the first palce and for sure not for the first time that has happened. this phenomenon is known since years, Gulf of Mexico was one palce as one poster wrote here. let's wait for answers, real answers, before assigning blame. is it the global warming, unfortunate weather and ocean conditions, was it human carelessness or plain greed of a ship's captain or company or production facility to get rid of their gunk, the truth will come out. and believe it, it does and will happen, even in Russia. Nature also is strong and will recover. And we all just can hope that such a disaster will not happen again.
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
09/10/2020 09:13
6
5
So very sad, I'd definitely be interested in finding g out more about the yellow river, so happy to hear Greenpeace is taking notice and contributing.. Hopi g it will get solved very soon..
Augie dunson, Lakeport, California, USA
08/10/2020 01:54
2
0
That must be terrible to experience, especially if you live there. The symptoms all sound similar to the "red tide" which occurs in the Gulf of Mexico here at random times and kills so many sea creatures and make peoples' eyes burn, headaches, nausea and more. It is said to be a natural phenomenon and is unpredictable when a rogue algae bloom occurs. Maybe this eco-disaster is a combination of natural circumstances facilitated by spurious human behavior, compounding the impact. In any case, I hope it is not a long occurrence and the Kamchatka sea returns to its pristine beauty.
SteveC, Odessa FL USA
07/10/2020 04:12
7
4
How tragic :(
lorenzo, Italy
07/10/2020 02:37
2
0
Russia is a supplier of the raw product to our western hightech progressive international lifestyle. There can never be change without a change in our demand for more of the same.
Ruhie Duffin, Stollet, Sweden
06/10/2020 17:26
11
6
It does not matter who, what, when. Now it needs to be stopped. Cleanup needs to begin.
Mohan, New York
06/10/2020 03:26
3
2
This planet no longer trusts humans.
Marin Tomuta,
06/10/2020 02:58
4
3
Very sad to see creatures of all species die out like that.To effect humans on the surface.It has to be something potent.I so hope they find a way to fix it.Write now to cast blame is not helping to fix it.
James, Alaska
06/10/2020 01:22
6
2
@Ksenia, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky - My heart bleeds out for you and your exceptionally exquisite Natural Heritage area for this horrendous ecological disaster. Further research has showed that a chemical depot at the foot of the Avachinsky volcano could be a viable cause. The depot created in 2010 was used to store chemical waste. After it's dissuse, the depot was unfortunately not destroyed nor demolished. The volcano being active could have erupted this chemical waste all over the area, into the river.and consequently the ocean.

@ Francois Labelle - we understand how pissed off and upset you are about this scandalous ecological disaster, however Canada is also not as holy as though; what with brutal, sick seal cub slaughtering and clubbing and polar bear trophy hunts etc...etc...etc...Whatever crimes humans worldwide commit; in the end it's nature and it's animals who unfortunately suffer the consequences...
Anonymous, Switzerland
06/10/2020 00:59
13
3
Humans are a vile disgusting species that destroy, pollute and abuse everything around them for selfish gain. Ecocide is a description that only applies to our species, taking no value, meaning or respect to the fauna and life on this planet. Capitalism, economic exploitation, military domination and endless growth are a curse upon us all, and especially upon the biosphere. These conditions described happen in many parts of the world and it's all human-caused greed and craven disregard for planetary life. Our species is evil, callous, irresponsible and unaccountable. This isn't just a Russian problem, this is happening all over the planet. We obviously have a massive human problem.
JOHN, USA
05/10/2020 23:33
18
4
I’m from Kamchatka and year... it’s awful. Million corpses of animal on the beach, water smells like chemicals. It’s really ecological catastrophe, and nobody knows the reason of it. The government of Kamchatka is silent. We hope that Greenpeace will help us and maybe other countries’ll help too. I love my krai, it’s a unique and beautiful land, and we mustn’t let it be destroy!


Ksenia, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia
05/10/2020 08:56
23
2
12

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy

Name

Town/Country

Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory


News

Business

The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies
EUR90.36USD76.46GBP99.45Other...