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Itar-Tass: WWF questions official version of mass death of fish off Sakhalin

25.09.2006, 15.30

MOSCOW, September 25 (Itar-Tass) — The World Wildlife Fund has dismissed as “not convincing” speculations the mass death of fish and animals washed ashore in the Sakhalin Island’s Aniva Bay late last week was due to a storm.

“According to the Ecological Watch of Sakhalin there was no storm in the area on that day,” said WWF Director Igor Chestin. “Moreover, as hurricanes approach, fish and crabs usually move to greater depths. Monday’ s explanation by the Sakhalin Region natural resources committee to the effect the south wind, not typical of the region, caused massive death of sea animals looks not plausible.”

Chestin suspects either chemical poisoning of the water or some unexplainable natural phenomenon.

“The position of the region’s authorities is clear. They are very much interested in the implementation of the Sakhalin-2 project,” the deputy chief of the Russian natural resources supervision watchdog, Oleg Mitvol, told Itar-Tass.

It remains unclear what caused the incident. The special inquiry dispatched to the region is probing into three versions.

One involves the construction of the Sakhalin Energy’s gas liquefying plant in the Aniva Bay, and another, the dumping of toxic chemicals by an unknown vessel. There is also the possibility “nearby communities developed sewage problems.”

Large amounts of dead crabs, fish and jellyfish were washed ashore in the village of Prigorodnoye on September 21 and 22.

Ecologists in Sakhalin suspect the construction of the gas liquefying plant in the area was responsible. The natural resources supervision watchdog considers this version, too, but the real causes are still to be established.

The Natural Resources Ministry last week annulled the approval of the feasibility studies for the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project. Sakhalin Energy is the project’s operator.
 

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