Where – Tomsk, Siberia, Russia
When – we met on 21st September. The organisation was set up in 2002 by students at university to help tackle environmental problems in the area.
Who – Alexiy Toporov and Sergei are the two full time staff. Volunteers also get involved for particular events or projects.
– The first and main project relates to raising awareness of the impacts and problems associated with the nuclear power plant nearby (7km away). It was originally built to manufacture nuclear weapons but is now used to produce raw uranium, which is then transmitted to produce uranium fuel for nuclear power plants.
– According to Sergei, some of the nuclear waste is buried in the soil and released into rivers, which will have negative consequences for Tomsk as it seeps into the groundwater over time (if it is not doing already). Various problems have occurred – in 1993, the plant for processing nuclear materials exploded accidentally staff, affecting a large area nearby requiring radioactive waste management. In the village hardest hit by the fallout, pregnant women were told to have abortions, and there were reports of two-headed calves born.
– They attend annual meetings to provide advice and try to raise awareness amongst the population in Tomsk.
– They run a variety of eco-education projects – lectures, lessons with school students, sharing experiences amongst teachers, book on environmental education and more.
– They have a website to allow people to report if rubbish has been dumped, or if there have been any oil spills or other pollution, at ecokarta.ru. They then call on the administration to remove it. They are currently seeking funds to develop this website. Sergey commented that it has become much harder to find funds to support environmental projects in Russia.
– They want to help save the planet!
– To help counteract the problems associated with the powerplant (see above)
– In general people are not very aware of environmental issues in Tomsk but people do show a lot of ‘NIMBYism’ (not in my backyard)
Find out more – green.tomsk.ru
– I was struck by Sergei’s comment about people putting up resistance to the local government administration in relation to things like new churches being erected, whilst it seems there is very little resistance to the nuclear power plant. I guess it probably provides jobs, and if problems are covered up from the local population, it’s just something people accept as part of the Tomsk landscape
– I really hope the safety of the nuclear power plant has improved dramatically since 1993 and that there aren’t too many problems associated with the radioactive waste. Sergei didnt mention anything to do with cancers or anything like that despite my asking about health and environmental impacts in Tomsk now.