Baikal World - information about pollution of lake Baikal and Baikal region
Home
Origin & Development
Legends & Fairy tales • 
Earth's Crust Thickness • 
Underwater Relief • 
Landscapes • 
History & Formation • 
Seismic Activity • 
History of Lake Baikal
History of Explorations • 
Inhabitants & Settlers • 
First maps of Baikal • 
Archaeological Sites • 
Lake Baikal Climate
Introduction • 
Fogs • 
Winds & Waves • 
Ice Conditions • 
Fauna & Vegetation
Mammals • 
Baikal seal - Nerpa • 
Ichthyofauna • 
Invertebrates • 
Vegetation • 
Water of Lake Baikal
Colour • 
Transparency • 
Temperature • 
Pressure • 
Depth • 
Currents • 
Budget • 
Chemical Composition • 
Pollution • 
Recreational Areas
Circumbaikal Railway • 
Peschanaya Bays • 
Olkhon Island • 
Chivirkuysky Gulf • 
Wooden Irkutsk • 
Trans-Siberian Railway • 
People of Lake Baikal
People of Siberia • 
Buryat nation in Baikal • 
Russians in Baikal • 
Explanation of the local terms and geographical names at lake Baikal
Pollution of Baikal:

Pollution of lake Baikal - Baikalsk Paper Mill Farm Every day itís becoming clearer that people are upset by the deterioration of nature in one place or another. Nature is being victimized by the triumphant march of Industry. Such a vast territory as our world would seem to offer enough space for both. However, over the past decades, this same evil presence seems to be at work trying to influence itís actions against this silent, no-manís land. Every time, for some mysterious reason destructive plans are not made available for
prior discussion with concerned people. Let us forget what has been irretrievably lost. The oaks above Tolstoyís grave at Yasnaia Poliana have barely shrivelled in the vapours of a chemical plant, as we learn of a new crimes against Lake Baikal. Our grief is not that of a bystander. We canít just say: "Farewell, Barguzin and the omul barrel". Most will not listen to our arguments, as if to say: "Letís get the most out of it; soon it will all be forgotten". No, it wonít be forgotten. Let us all take off our hats on the day when poison gushes into this purest of vessels.

The Paper-and-Pulp Mill at Baikalsk has polluted the surrounding region and threatens the pristine conditions that have existed for centuries. The paper mill produces bleached cellulose that is used in clothing manufacture. The process, however, produces chemicals and effluent that threaten the more than 1,500 species unique to the lake. The success of Lake Baikal has been viewed as critical to other environmental efforts throughout the world. Plans for the paper mill at Baikalsk began in 1954. The public was informed in 1957; protests were held, and ignored. This pollution affects the bottom-dwellers of the lake as well, for Lake Baikal's waters are thoroughly mixed, with oxygen found even at the lowest depths. In addition, the Angara carries some of this pollution westward. Baikalsk releases chlorinated organics from the waste chemicals involved in pulp bleaching. These are of particular concern since they take centuries to biodegrade.

Air pollution of lake Baikal - Baikalsk Paper Mill Farm Air pollution surrounding Baikalsk is the worst in Baikal region. The larch and pine forests in the area also exhibit degradation effects from the pollution. Furthermore, disabilities in the population are rising, ostensibly a result of the pollution. DDT levels are higher here. Many other chemical levels show similarities to the U.S. Great Lakes. This is particularly worrisome, as the food web for Lake Baikal closely mirrors that of the Great Lakes. While Baikal supports 1,500+
endemic species, however, Lake Superior, by contrast, has only four. This may be a result of age, however; while Lake Baikal is roughly 30 million years old, Lake Superior is only 10,000 years old.

Pollution also occurs from the Selenga River. This tributary is the main inlet to Baikal, contributing almost one-half of Baikal's water inflow. Sediment and waste from three large Mongolian cities, as well as human and industrial wastes are carried by the Selenga. Thus far, the most noticeable effect has been decreased spawning rates for the omul, an endemic fish considered a delicacy. The coal-burning plants in Slyudyanka, furthermore, contribute to acid rain, which in turn further pollution in the lake. In April 1987, the Soviet government issued a decree to protect Lake Baikal. Mikhail Grachev, a molecular biologist, was appointed the director of the Institute for Limnology at Irkutsk in 1986, (the Siberian branch of the Soviet Academy of Sciences) and was directed to study Lake Baikal. In 1988 the Center for the Great Lakes Studies entered into a joint project with the Institute of Limnology. An international ecological center was instituted at Baikal in 1990. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is considering classifying Lake Baikal as a natural treasure of the world, which would then give it international protection.

Air pollution of lake Baikal - Large Chemical Plant on Lake Baikal Lake Baikal is currently a test area to determine the extent of the spread of manmade pollutants. Considering the levels of pollution, Lake Baikal remains in fairly pristine condition. This is largely the result of its tremendous size. Its size, however, is what led to the pollution in the first place. For years, many Soviet officials believed that factories would not harm the lake; its size would disperse the chemicals harmlessly. Now, however, it has been shown that pollution at
any level is detrimental. Lake Baikal is currently a test area to determine the extent of the spread of manmade pollutants. Considering the levels of pollution, Lake Baikal remains in fairly pristine condition. This is largely the result of its tremendous size. Its size, however, is what led to the pollution in the first place. For years, many Soviet officials believed that factories would not harm the lake; its size would disperse the chemicals harmlessly. Now, however, it has been shown that pollution at any level is detrimental. Baikal has become a symbol of environmental dangers. The similarities of Lake Baikal to other bodies of water indicate these dangers and the urgency of conservation. The Great Lakes, although now on a rebound, were in terrible condition. Lake Baikal has also been compared to Lake Tanganyika, which houses no life. International participation and funding, however, appear crucial to salvaging the Siberian Pearl.

If the pollution continues unabated, which is not foreseen, it may become more crucial. At particular risk are the Baikal seal and several species of endemic fish found no where else in the world, including the omul and the golomyanka.



PRIBAIKALSKY NATIONAL PARK & NATURE PROTECTION SOCIETY
on preserving natural environment and wild beauty of the Lake welcomes any proposals on improving ecological situation in Baikal
please call: +7(3952) 467437; +7(3952) 467444

»  more about pollution of lake Baikal




Copyright © Baikal World. All rights reserved.