KIRKENES, Norway – Residents of this Norwegian-Russian border town have long suffered enormous sulfur dioxide emissions from Russian industry, and say they’re fed up with weak reactions from their own politicians to the two-decade old problem.
An area event last week gathered hundreds of residents of the small town in highlighting their worries over the heavy metal emissions wafting in from the Russian Kola Peninsula’s Kola Mining and Metallurgy Company’s industrial complex towns, and requested their own local politicians break deadlocked talks between Oslo and Moscow to improve the situation.
The Kola company is spread out across Northwest Russia in three of the dirtiest industrial towns in the country: Nikel, Zapolyarny and Monchegorsk. The Kirkenes event highlighted the recent publication of a Norwegian-authored book entitled Stop the Soviet Death Clouds, the name of the eponymous movement that was sparked in the early 1990s to fight trans-border pollution from the newly disbanded Soviet Union.
The authors of the book, many of whom took part in the original movement, said this early environmental movement was joined by some 40 percent of Norwegians living in areas abutting the new Russian border.
But according to Kare Tannvik, an activist and tourism businessman, some 26 years of demands have failed to abate the industrial pollution from Russia.
“We’re a small country with little influence,” he said during debates at the event. “We need international cooperation to solve this problem.”
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