The Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry of Ukraine is planning to call for charges to be made against Mykolaiv Alumina Refinery, which is 100% controlled by RUSAL (Russia), for environment pollution.
According to the State Ecology Inspection’s statement distributed by the Ecology Ministry on February 28, red mud dust is spreading from the refinery over the territory around it.
The statement reads that the spread of the red mud abated as of February 27 "due to weaker wind and snow."
"The inspection’s laboratory experts took the samples of the ground in the area where the mud is spreading. An improvement notice on elimination of violations of the environmental legislation has been sent to the director general of Mykolaiv Alumina Refinery," reads the ministry’s report.
When the results of the ground tests are ready, the damage caused to the environment will be evaluated and an improvement notice will be sent to the enterprise.
Interfax-Ukraine learned from Mykolaiv Alumina Refinery that low temperatures had caused the spreading of the mud.
"Due to the sharp decrease of temperatures in Mykolaiv region, the sludge ponds froze. As a result of this, dust formed and a gusty wind spread it, but now the spreading of the dust has almost stopped. A special group was formed at the plant to quickly clean up the dust, all available special equipment and additional equipment is being used for this," reads the plant’s commentary.
At the same time, the press service noted that "the red mud from Mykolaiv Alumina Refinery is not toxic and contains no lead or mercury, it is of the fourth [the lowest] class of danger, and this is confirmed by the toxicology and sanitary passport and a conclusion of the National Center for Hazardous Waste Management of the Environmental Protection Ministry of Ukraine."
In turn, residents of Mykolaiv region expressed fear of a possible repetition of the environmental disaster that took place in Hungary in 2010.
On Oct. 4 toxic waste poured out of a sludge reservoir of an alumina refinery in the Hungarian town of Ajka. As a result of the disaster, red mud consisting of oxides of iron, aluminum and heavy metals polluted the basin of the Marzal River that flows into the Raba River, which in turn flows into the Danube River.
At that time Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych issued a number of orders, among which was an order to inspect the condition of those of Ukraine’s enterprises that are potentially hazardous to the environment.
Mykolaiv Alumina Refinery in 2010 increased alumina production by 2.6% year-on-year, to 1.534 million tonnes.
Mykolaiv Alumina Refinery is the largest alumina producer in the CIS states. The enterprise has its own port with the capacity to process five million tonnes of cargo per year, as well as a railways terminal with the capacity to process two million tonnes of cargo per year.
The RUSAL Joint Company was created in 2007 from the merger of RusAl, SUAL and alumina assets belonging to Swiss trader Glencore.