Monday, April 16, 2018

The Kremlin's Waste

"When Sergei V. Skripal got poisoned, this was very serious for them [the Kremlin]."
"When a city of 40,000 people gets poisoned, they don't care."
Andrei A. Zhdanov, Volokolamsk businessman

"In the first half of 2017, I received 80,000 tons of waste; in the second half I had twice as much."
"If it weren't for Kuchino [regional landfill dump close to Moscow], we would stay within our normal limits."
Maksim O. Konopko, Yadrovo landfill owner

"The only things you hear are Ukraine and Syria, Ukraine and Syria."
"Why they never cover our own, Russian problems?"
Lidiya L. Ivanova, 59, resident of Volokolamsk

"There are children in Syria, there are children in Ukraine! Who am I?"
"I am only ten, and I went to live."
Deni Tsugayev, resident of Volokolamsk, Russia
Russians rally outside the Volokolamsk town hall demanding the closure of the Yadrovo landfill on April 1
In the small town of Volokolamsk, about 20 kilometers west of Moscow, residents are angry and upset over the presence of a giant landfill about 30 meters in height, an immense heap of trash making the air the entire town breathes redolent of methane and hydrogen sulfide gas. The stench of rotten eggs is all-pervasive, and so malignantly disturbing there are those who claim it makes their heart beats irregular.

Townspeople insist that the fumes from the giant garbage dump are responsible for all manner of strange occurrences, from cars refusing to start, cats suddenly falling over dead, and children continually suffering from nausea, dizziness and eczema. The locals have complained, to no avail. It all began in June when another town's unhappiness reached the ears of the one person whose word is instantly obeyed.

During President Vladmimir Putin's annual call-in show, residents of a town right outside Moscow, Balashikha, called in to complain about their travails around a truly "unbearable" situation their neighbourhood suffers from. Kuchino, one of the largest landfill dumps in the entire region, is located adjacent their town, and its malodorous presence was making everyone ill, and couldn't something, anything, please be done about it?

It could indeed. President Putin addressed the issue with determination and alacrity. Environment Minister Sergei Donskoy recommended that action be taken in 2021 to perhaps close the Kuchino dump; move it and its contents elsewhere. "Now listen to me. Close this landfill within a month", Mr. Putin advised his minister of the environment. No sooner ordered than done.

The landfill closed but the issue of a thousand truckloads of waste from Moscow had to be disposed on a regular basis somewhere, somehow.

And so regional governments distributed the waste among landfills around Moscow. The Hadrovo dump near Volokolamsk has received a substantial increase in trucks lining up before its gates to release their burden and increase the stench.

Man wearing a gas mask rides a quad bike at the landfill
Man wearing a gas mask rides a quad bike at the landfill

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