Mysterious pollution causing mass deaths of marine animals in Russia’s Kamchatka

Mysterious toxic pollution along a 40 km (25 miles) stretch of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula has killed 95 percent of seabed creatures in the area and caused health issues among surfers since September 2020. 

The marine pollution was first reported by local surfers, who suffered eye problems and apparent chemical burns after going in the waters in September. 

“For several weeks now, all surfers have experienced problems with their eyes after returning from the water. White shroud, blurred vision, dryness. Sore throat. Many had nausea, weakness, high fever,” said Yekaterina Dyba, a geographer who runs the Snowave Kamchatka surfing school.

Divers who examined the waters along the wide stretch of Kamchatka reported that 95 percent of seabed creatures have been found dead, including seals, octopi, starfish, and sea urchins.

Greenpeace Russia has called the situation an “ecological disaster,” urging authorities to investigate. Following the uproar, Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed in a statement that it was investigating the marine pollution.

Acting Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Aleksei Kumarkov said an analysis of water samples showed the presence of petroleum products at levels four times the average, toxic compound phenol, and other substances.

Kamchatka Governor Vladimir Solodov said authorities were awaiting further test results, but there were “no grounds to talk about any specific version” of what might have wiped out so much sea life.

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State-run news agency initially suggested that a commercial oil tanker leak might have caused the contamination, while Russian media discussed other possible explanations, including contamination from one of the military facilities along the coast, or an area where chemicals have been buried secretly.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry denied that any vessel from the Pacific Navy Fleet was accountable for the pollution. “No combat training involving ships and vessels of the Pacific Fleet has been carried out” in the area since June.”

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