Participants of an ecological protest camp in Sasovo near Ryazan have been demonstrating against the plans to open a chemical factory in Nizhnee Maltsevo. The protesters unravelled banners calling the phenol formaldehyde resin factory a “chemical genocide”.
Russia’s ecological, technological and nuclear supervisory authority, Rostekhnadzor, has not issued a permit for the factory, which was built without the required filter equipment. Nevertheless, the company behind the project, OOO Novoe, intends to open the factory as planned.
The project was initiated after Grigory Shpak, former Governor of Ryazan Oblast, signed an agreement with the Indian chemical corporation, AMITY Thermosets, on the production of phenol formaldehyde resins in Nizhnee Maltsevo.
The factory will be opened in the premises of Sasovo’s current paint factory, which is located only half a kilometre from the nearest residential district. According to regulations, hazardous plants can be built no closer than one kilometre from the nearest residential area.
In a local referendum, over 90% voted against the factory. OOO Novoe asked Ryazan’s court of arbitration to overturn the result of the referendum. The court, however, upheld the result on 19 May 2008, thus according the vote legal force.
However, the chairman of Sasovo’s city council announced that the factory will be opened before the end of the summer, given that the company has already invested a great deal of funds in the project.
The factory will produce phenol formaldehyde resins, which are classified as hazardous toxins. Given that the factory was built without the necessary safety technology, there is a great danger of toxic leaks. Moreover, the factory will release regular emissions into the environment.
Independent researchers say the emissions will raise the risk of cancer and respiratory diseases among the inhabitants in the factory’s vicinity. The minimum requirement would be to build a purification plant or relocate residents from the area, the experts say.
On 10 July, the ecological activists protesting at the plant turned to Oleg Kuvalev, Governor of Ryazan Oblast, calling on him to uphold the law and prevent the opening of the factory. The police and FSB threatened to arrest the protesters.
The ecological camp was opened on 5 July with the support of local residents. Participants include local residents, members of the ecological organisation Rainbow Keepers, and the movement for the ecological security of Sasovo. The protestors intend to stay in the camp through July.