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#8 - JRL 7214
BBC Monitoring
TV Reports From Southern Russian Town Beset by Environmental Problems
Source: Centre TV, Moscow, in Russian 1100 gmt 8 Jun 03

(Presenter) Russia's prospects for joining the EU are rather distant. The Europeans are rightly afraid of our disorderliness, crime rate and the poor state of the environment. The atmosphere of some Russian towns is so harmful to everything alive that it protects us from any rapprochement with the West better than any Iron Curtain could. The following is a report from Stavropol Territory.

(Correspondent Aleksey Bodrov) The industrial skyline has long ago become an inseparable part of the small town of Nevinnomyssk in Stavropol Territory. Its most prominent feature is this huge white mound of chemical waste on the grounds of one of the country's largest producers of nitric fertilizers (the Azot association).

Apart from the Azot association, there are also the region's largest power plant, a plant producing household detergents and several other, minor, enterprises located here. All that gives one reason to call Nevinnomyssk the town of chemists. The title however does not instil much pride in local residents. Living next to industrial chimneys is not totally harmless to people's health.

In other words, the environmental situation here is not so good.

(Unidentified female shop assistant) I don't think that the situation is very good because there are frequent emissions from Azot. I think that the (environmental) situation in this town is not so good.

(Passage omitted: comments to the same effect from a man in the street)

(Correspondent) Unlike the residents of the town, the local authorities do not spend much time discussing environmental issues. They say that everything is within the norm. Such position is quite predictable. All the offending enterprises are crucial for the town's economy and budget. And no official is an enemy to oneself.

It is probably for this very reason that not a single hospital or outpatient clinic in the town gave us clear information on the number of health problems directly linked to the unfavourable environmental situation. It is not clear whether there is no statistic to that effect or the figures are too frightening.

(Video shows local scenes, the town's skyline dominated by chimneys)

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