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#9 - JRL 7237
BBC Monitoring
Russian industrial town suffering from environmental disaster
Source: Ren TV, Moscow, in Russian 1030 gmt 23 Jun 03

[Presenter] A special UN commission has recognized the town of Chapayevsk in Samara Region the most heavily polluted town in Russia. Western experts compare the situation in Chapayevsk with consequences of the war in Vietnam. Environmentalists suggest that the town be demolished, but the authorities evidently have different plans.

[Correspondent Aleksandr Mostoslavskiy] People call the lakes near the chemical and powder factories in Chapayevsk dead. They don't freeze even in winter. Water, saturated with poisonous waste, flows to a dead river and then goes to the town's water supply network. The service life of local water-cleaning installations expired long ago.

Chapayevsk has the population of 70,000, most of whom are seriously ill.

[Unidentified woman, speaking to camera in the street] We've been accustomed to TNT. My daughter is 31. When I gave birth to her, the baby's skin was yellow and a blood transfusion had to be done to her.

[Correspondent] The production of nitrobenzene, one of the most hazardous substances, started in Chapayevsk this year.

The main problem of the town is contaminated soil. The content of dioxides exceeds the Russian standard 20-fold and the European standard - 140-fold.

As much as R3bn has been allocated from the regional budget to save Chapayevsk from an environmental disaster. This would be enough to remove the 25-cm upper layer of soil.

[Anatoliy Vinogradov, captioned as chairman of Samara Region environmental society] It's impossible to recultivate this soil. It must be removed and buried somewhere and fresh soil must be brought if we want the people to live there in the future.

[Correspondent] When there is little money and many problems, you have to select priorities. We should either remove soil or treat the sick people, the city authorities say and choose the second option. They are going to build a new hospital and a sanatorium and to buy medicine.

[Viktor Kazakov, captioned as Samara Region deputy governor] We've earmarked a big sum of money, above R3bn, for the environmental programme and construction of various social facilities.

[Correspondent] However, environmentalists insist on a radical solution. It's impossible to save the town, they say. They recommend that it be demolished, the site covered under a 10-cm layer of fresh soil and the population evacuated.

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