Alexander Shadrikov: ‘We oversee everything that’s emitted into the atmosphere’

The Tatarstan Ministry of Environment explained how he came to an agreement with enterprises on control over emissions

Tatarstan that is notable for its high concentration of industrial enterprises annually spends over 11,5 billion rubles on environmental protection measures. Thanks to holistic monitoring and massive cash injections, the situation with air pollution markedly improved in cities, claimed Tatarstan Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Alexander Shadrikov at a round-table talk Environmental Safety in Industrial Cities. Moreover, since this year, industrial tycoons — Tatneft and TAIF — have started to send data on emissions into the atmosphere from their own automatic stations to the Tatarstan environment ministry’s server.

Air purity under ecologists’ control

Air quality in Tatarstan cities is more favourable than 10 years ago, while emissions of harmful substances are conditioned by a rise in the car fleet rather than the operation of industrial enterprises. Moreover, industrial tycoons themselves don’t hide amounts of emissions, become more transparent and open in the use of natural resources, said Tatarstan Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Alexander Shadrikov during a discussion dedicated to the problem of environmental safety in industrial cities.

According to him, this year, large natural resource users have signed an agreement with the Tatarstan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources committing them to disclose data on environmental monitoring and a gradual reduction in emissions into the atmosphere. Within these agreements, all automatic environmental surveillance stations of industrial enterprises were connected to the environment ministry’s server. As a result, data on industrial emissions began to be received by supervisory agencies online.

“The largest holdings — Tatneft and TAIF — have signed agreements with the ministry and send data on industrial emissions from their automatic control stations,” said Alexander Shadrikov to the public. “This data is updated every 30-40 minutes.”

The Tatarstan minister of environment and natural resources of Tatarstan says that such information transparency allows seeing an objective picture. “They don’t hide their data, and we oversee everything that is emitted into the atmosphere.” The minister adds that a similar scheme can be applied to other enterprises, which “will allow expanding the scheme of air control in the republic.”

0,01% cleaner air

On the other hand, the ministry’s own laboratory regularly takes samples in cities that show positive dynamics. If 4 million samples of the air were taken in 2019, last year, the number grew by 250,000 samples. The radius of the coverage expanded thanks to a purchase of new equipment, the minister specified. As a result, the maximum allowable concentration in the air reduced by 0,01% a year: from 0,05% in 2020 to 0,04% in 2021. “This speaks about the air quality,” the Tatarstan environment minister claimed stressing that air quality is improved despite the frequency of measurements.

Car owners who switch to new fuel types also made their contribution to a decrease in pollution. “Euro 4 and Euro 5 motor fuel is sold at the republic’s petrol stations, which leads to a reduction in the amount of polluting substances in the air. According to Clean Air joint operation with traffic police, the share of cars with exceeded emissions goes down. In 2020, the rise was 3,3%, while in 2010 it was 22,7%. At the same time, the amount of cars in the republic increased many times.

Sewage discharge in Kyzyl Bayrak

Water bodies are monitored at 261 control stations, the Tatarstan environment minister went on. The republic has 79 water bodies. Surface water is analysed in 29 indicators.

“Over 30,000 tests are done annually. Now we see an improvement of surface waters of the republic. The number of samples with the excessive maximum allowed concentration decreases,” Shadrikov said.

He put an example of data from a station located near Kyzyl Bayrak village (Verkhny Uslon District, Tatarstan, with direct access to the Volga River). According to the minister, industrial enterprises used to discharge sewage here, including illegally. After this site was detected, a control post was set up. As a result, MAC digits reduced by 15%. “This is very important. Measures we take against those who organise illegal discharges work.”

Environment national project is the main funding of environmental protection projects. This money is spent on the Volga’s sanitation, conservation of forests, measures in Clean Country programme. A total of 11,5 billion rubles were allocated for these purposes, including 7 billion rubles of enterprises’ investments.

In environmental investments, Tatarstan ranks first in the Volga Federal District, said Shadrikov.

Carbon site to control carbon footprint

What tasks is the Ministry of Environment set? According to him, a course for a production ramp-up uninterruptedly must consider tasks of providing a territory’s sustainable development and taking definitive measures in environmental safety.

“It is absolutely obvious that only economies with energy efficiency will be more competitive. This is why Tatarstan does a lot to introduce principles of circular economy,” he claimed.

With the adoption of the Paris Agreement, there is a task of reducing the carbon footprint in the economy. It is planned to create a carbon site at Kazan Federal University in 2022 to monitor the footprint and develop and test technologies controlling the carbon balance, the minister said. This year, on the republican president’s instructions, a taskforce for climate policy and decarbonisation plans has been created in Tatarstan. Representatives of enterprises and organisations of the republic, the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, universities, ministries of the republic are members of the taskforce.

The minister says that Tatneft was one of the first companies to join the Science Based Targets initiative to limit global warming. According to this initiative, it will reduce greenhouse emissions to reach carbon neutrality (zero net greenhouse gases) by 2050. To minimise the negative impact of the carbon footprint on the environment, the company has planted 5 million trees in 2021. The activity of enterprises in the Nizhnekamsk Industrial Hub with 62 companies in total is an example of a responsible attitude of industrial enterprises. For instance, in the last three years, Nizhnekamsk enterprises, which are part of TAIF Group of Companies, have taken a series of environmental protection measures.

Industrial enterprises ask to re-calculate municipal solid waste

In turn, Artur Nikolayev, vice chairman of the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry including over 2,000 enterprises of Tatarstan, assured the audience that care about the environment was an important priority for them when running their activity.

“There is an environmental committee among 29 committees operating in the Chamber. It was created to help enterprises when changes were made to legislation,” Nikolayev said.

Later, the speaker touched on a hot-button problem of payment for municipal solid waste. “During the pandemic, enterprises were closed. Despite this, they had to pay the average, which was too high,” he complained.

In continuation of the theme, Vice Director General of the Investment Fund for Territory Development Ruslan Gadzhiyev noted that besides automated control it was necessary to establish dialogue with citizens so that “they will see how and what is done in the republic to save the clean air.”

“So what do people see? Industrial pipe smoke, oily patches in water bodies, deforestation, an unpleasant smell. At the same time people almost never feel the job done on protection, restoration of the environment. Investments in the filtration and treatment system, compensatory tree planting, clean-up of river tributaries. This is why it public control over these issues is important. This especially refers to big new construction projects, the opening of new enterprises. Without a dialogue and direct preliminary talk, considering citizens’ opinion, we won’t have the result we wait for. Frankly speaking, all environmental measures are taken for our citizens, for their future,” he concluded.

Luiza Ignatyeva