In a surprising development, the Kola Mining and Metallurgy Company –which for decades has stubbornly fouled air over Northwest Russia and Scandinavia – last year reduced its emissions of harmful sulfur dioxide by more than 20 percent.
The KMMC, a daughter company of the giant Norilsk Nickel, reported last week that its sulfur dioxide emissions for 2016 totaled 119,700 tons, which is 35,000 tons less than the previous year.
The new emissions figures seem to reverse a rise in the toxic heavy metal pollution that began in 2011. That year, the KMMC posted figures as high as 134,000 tons a year. They rose in subsequent years, plateauing at a towering 154,900 tons in 2015.
The fall in pollution might also indicate that a promised $14 billion infusion into modernizing and cleaning up Norilsk Nickel’s geriatric Soviet-era facilities is hitting its mark. The specifics of where that money is going remain unclear. But the company has promised to slash sulfur dioxide pollution on the Kola Peninsula by 90 percent before 2023.
Emissions from the KMMC have for decades been a source of tension between Russia and Norway. Politicians and environmentalists in Northern Norway have long sought action from Oslo against Moscow, and local residents recently proposed sanctioning Norilsk Nickel’s billionaire CEO, Vladimir Potanin.
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