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REGNUM: Oleg Mitvol: The court is ashamed of canceling positive ecological report on Sakhalin 2 project

The ecological impacts of the Sakhalin 2 project were first mentioned in the second half of 2006 after 2-3 years of constant warning by ecologists, says the deputy head of the Rosprirodnadzor (Ecological Control Department) Oleg Mitvol said at the online conference at REGNUM on Nov 27. “In June 2006 we began receiving specific reports from forestries about substantial ecological damage.”

“We began check-ups and revealed mass violations of the legislation and construction norms in different regions. Particularly, as a result of an administrative inspection, we have found out that Sakhalin Energy knew that the project was damaging ecology but wasn’t doing anything about it. Since June we have held many check-ups and have done much.”

“We have filed a claim for canceling the positive findings of the state ecological inspection but the court is yet ashamed of doing it,” says Mitvol.

As REGNUM reported earlier, the Moscow Presnensky Court is considering the claim of the Rosprirodnadzor and the Ministry of Ecological Resources for canceling Decree #600 (a decree confirming the conclusions of the expert commission of the State Ecological Inspection concerning the feasibility report on the complex development of the Piltun-Astokh and Lunsky licensed fields under the Sakhalin 2 project — REGNUM). The Regional Development Agency reports that during the two years following the implementation of the feasibility study the selfsame Rosprirodnadzor and the Ministry of Ecological Resources have repeatedly proved the validity of Decree 600 in courts.

Asked if the detected violations will have any negative impact on start-up projects, Mitvol said: “Nothing has changed in our legislation. Today, we are starting to consider serious changes in priorities.” “The Town Planning Code does all possible to harm ecology, particularly, by allowing the construction of low-rise buildings and cement plants. Oil and gas companies do not care for ecology and we will try to do our best to force them to comply with the ecological legislation.”

“By the way, we have also revealed violations in Rosneft’s projects on Sakhalin. We are trying to hold inspections everywhere but not all the employees of our central office are active inspectors: of our 100 employees, only 20 are inspectors. Of them only 10 can work really effectively. In fact, nobody expects us to be very active: when one of the biggest national companies violated the law in the Komi region and made a bargain with local officials, they could hardly expect us to come by a helicopter and find their derrick. It is essential to go to the scenes to get first hand information – sometimes you can see such things there!… They in Komi are not shamed of calling Lukoil ‘our company’ and we wonder where those officials get their salaries from…”

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