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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)

Russia is a war criminal state, Russia is an international mafia state...Through greed, abysmal incompetence, Russia is an environmental terrorist endangering oceans marine life the world over ... I can't express in writing how upset I am!
Francois Labelle, Canada
05/10/2020 05:16
21
30
Could it be something that was dumped back in the USSR time and is now leaking
Alex, Sweden
04/10/2020 23:45
10
6
That is a scandal ! satellites pictures please to find the cause and jail for responsability
Jocelyne, FRANCE
04/10/2020 16:10
17
8
Check your morals. Look inside yourself. Fix up.
Flynn Cremin , Birmingham
04/10/2020 04:35
5
11
12

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