‘How will we collect waste from remote districts?’ A debate on the benefit of WIP in Bashkiria

Will the region have a waste incineration plant for 21 billion rubles? Ecologists consider the project unworkable and suggest other options

‘How will we collect waste from remote districts?’ A debate on the benefit of WIP in Bashkiria
Photo: bashinform.ru

The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade offered to build nine waste incineration plants (WIP) in regions. Bashkortostan, Leningrad, Irkutsk, Omsk, Voronezh, Moscow Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai are on the list. The cost of the construction of the waste incineration plant in the republic is estimated at 21,27 billion rubles. The construction site hasn’t yet been chosen. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Where will the Bashkir WIP be built?

The problem of eradication of growing landfills in Bashkortostan has been long overdue. The construction of a waste incineration plant is one of the solutions. Nowadays the authorities consider two possible sites for the WIP — in the suburbs of Ufa, near the landfill in Cherkassy or in the republic’s Krasnokamsky District.

According to the programme’s project, 342,5 billion rubles will be allocated to build nine plants of this type in the Russian regions. Moreover, 37,55 billion rubles will be needed from the federal budget, the rest is planned to be attracted from extrabudgetary sources. 308 million public and 20,9 billion extrabudgetary money will be spent on the waste incineration plant in Bashkiria.

It is assumed that the company building a waste incineration plant in Tatarstan, RT-Invest, a private enterprise created in 2012 together with Rostec public corporation, will implement the project. The lead time of the Bashkortostan project isn’t yet known.

“I really doubt that this project will be implemented”

At the same time, some specialists doubt the WIP will be built in the region.

In a talk with Realnoe Vremya, Chairman of the Union of Ecologists of the Republic of Bashkortostan Alexander Veselov said that in the offered variant the plant would not be profitable and eco-friendly.

“As a specialist in this sphere, I really doubt this project will be implemented. There are a lot of reasons. As Vice Premier of the Russian Government Viktoria Abramchenko said, it is very pricey, “platinum” plants. Of course, emissions of dioxins and other dangerous toxic substances that will end up in the atmosphere are the most important thing,” Veselov said.

The interlocutor of the newspaper thinks that it isn’t correct to put an example of Europe here because supervisory agencies keep a close eye on waste incineration:

“We understand that a waste incineration plant can be in the centre of a European city. But in Russia, there is almost no federal ecological control over such enterprises, it is quite formal or there is none at all. We will have uncontrolled emissions and, consequently, a rise in the incidence of diseases in the place this plant will be located.”

“The people will certainly not approve it”

It won’t be easy to find a location for such an enterprise that everybody likes, the chairman of the Union of Ecologists thinks. Citizens understand that the location of such a facility next to a settlement will considerably worsen the environment, which means that a waste incineration plant can kindle the fire of another popular discontent.

“If it is located in the city with a million people of population, in Ufa, the people won’t approve it. This is for sure. There will be protests, social unrest. We have already gone through this many times. Thousands of people have already gathered for ecological protests. If such enterprises are built, they should be far from settlements, with good cleaning and strict control, environmental oversight,” Alexander Veselov stressed.

Besides the potential growth of popular discontent, the economic component of the project has problems too. Particularly logistics can create troubles.

“One plant cannot be created for the whole republic. How will we collect waste from other, remote districts? It will be necessary to raise tariffs and bills from the population many times. It is unreal. There shouldn’t be one plant, a small enterprise should be placed in every industrial hub. While we are offered to locate a plant with a capacity of 500,000 tonnes in Ufa. How will you transport waste from the east of the Urals to Ufa, which is 300 kilometres? The economy will certainly not work here,” the expert assumes.

“Do we need a cancer upsurge?”

Ecologist and eco-coach Olesya Abubakirova is convinced that waste incineration in the long term is a dangerous road. It is more effective to develop separate waste collection and recycling.

“Incineration is the last stage in the life cycle of waste. After incineration, it isn’t suitable for recycling. Why burn what can be recycled? Supporters of waste incineration say that what isn’t recycled will be incinerated. But this is wrong, such a mixture will simply not burn. This is why they will burn what catches fire — paper, plastic, rubber. This can be nicely recycled. Why burn? Waste incineration is expensive. In fact, a waste incineration plant doesn’t produce anything useful, it just consumes resources. Yes, here one can disagree that electrical energy can be generated from incineration. But it turns out to be the most expensive among all alternatives — thermal plants, hydro plants and nuclear plants are much cheaper,” she considers.

Olesya Abubakirova pays attention to the fact that waste incineration leaves waste that needs to be disposed of.

“It is harmful emissions and tonnes of ash. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause cancer. Do we need a cancer upsurge? There is ash then. Yes, there will be 10 times less waste. But ash also needs to be done something. Hi to new landfills.”

Nowadays the authorities consider two possible sites for the WIP — in the suburbs of Ufa, near the landfill in Cherkassy or in the republic’s Krasnokamsky District. Photo: ufaved.info

“Our water supply is under threat”

However, other ideas that can help Ufa get rid of growing landfills are considered too. Chairman of the Union of Ecologists Alexander Veselov thinks that there are alternative workable projects that need to be implemented in Bashkortostan.

“Hearings of the reconstruction of the Ufa urban landfill were already held. It is a non-project landfill, but this can become a landfill with remediation. This project is supported by the regional ecological operator, it promises to help with financing through green bonds. It will be the optimal option because it is necessary to urgently do something with the Cherkassy landfill.”

Alexander Veselov notes that the situation at the landfill in Ufa isn’t simple. If measures aren’t taken, landfill sewage can end up in the water, which can lead to water poisoning in the capital.

“There are a lot of filtrates. Our water supply is under threat. The city with a million people was poisoned, we became worldwide known with this dioxin catastrophe. We can repeat it,” the ecologist warned.

Emil Ziyangirov
Bashkortostan