Pollution of Belovezhskaya Pushcha: dumping rubbish and sawdust

Infringements: Clauses 26 and 27 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus «About Special Protected Natural Territories and Objects» are violated; Clause 62 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus «About Environment Protection» is violated.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: A serious problem has sprung up in Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the recent years - rubbish pollution. The previous page "National Park reveals its anti-ecological ways to tourist" has already shown how the forest in the vicinity of the Park's tourist centre is being littered. This problem, however, is also important as regards the rest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, first of all the administrative centre of the National Park, which is located in the village of Kamenyuki that has population of over 1,500 people.

Naturally, the village of this size produces much rubbish. To utilize and bury it, a dump area was crated by the sawmill complex near the village. All rubbish, including scrap metal and waste products from wood-processing used to be dumped there in the past.

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(The dump with the industry rubbish and waste near the village:
1, 2 and 3 - views from the wood; 4 - a view from the sawmill; October 10, 2004)

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(The dump area with the sawdust waste
near the village, October 10, 2004)

However, a year ago the administration of the National Park closed access to the dump without any explanation. The dump was fenced in (by the way, a considerable amount of prime wood was used to put up the fence).

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(The fence around the dump in the village of Kamenyuki,
October 10, 2004)

The entrance to the dump (asphalted road) was also blocked with a high fence (local people tried to destroy the fence later, which is seen in pictures 2 and 3).

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(The entrance to the dump:
1 - October 10, 2004; 2 and 3 - December 25, 2004)

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(The ditch, October 10, 2004)
Further in the forest, where putting up the fence was not considered worthwhile, a ditch was dug to prevent cars from entering the dump. A shield was set up close to the entrance road saying "Dumping is FORBIDDEN! FINE for dumping is twenty minimum wages".

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(The forbidden-shield, October 10, 2004)

As an alternative to the dump, the administration of the National Park offered a new place for dumping. It is situated far from the center of the village of Kamenyuki, within a young pine wood and approximately one kilometer from the former dump site. Bulldozers dug out a deep pit for the new dump.

In the pictures - a view of the new dump. For all the time it has been functioning, only a small heap of old bricks "was laid" in the pit, and a heap of building waste materials was left at the edge of it.

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(The pit for the new dump, December 25, 2004)

However, the administration made a mistake about the site for the new dump. Not only it is placed farther from the old dump, it is also difficult to get to as the road leading to it is nothing but quicksand. As a result, local people dump their rubbish in the midst of the wood that surrounds the village.

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(Rubbish in the wood that surrounds the village of Kamenyuki,
October 10, 2004)

Large rubbish heaps have already appeared in the forest, and continue to grow (photo 1 and 2). Heaps of sawdust can also be seen in the forest (photo 3).

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(1 and 2 - rubbish... 3 - ... and sawdust in the forest that surrounds the
village of Kamenyuki; 1 and 2 - December 25, 2004, 3 - October 10, 2004)

But all this cannot be compared with the scale at which the administration of the National Park is littering the forest. The administration made its own dumping ground in the pine wood that is 1.5 kilometers from the village near the site of a former military barracks. There is a small settlement there. To set up the dumping ground, certain sanitary norms should be observed and proper permission should be given. But was that the case? Representatives of supervisory state bodies do not know about it. Therefore this dump might have been set up illegally. Only sawdust was dumped in the young wood at first. Then, when the area of few hectares was covered by sawdust and rubbish, and the dumping ground moved to the middle-aged pine wood, not only sawdust, but also building and household rubbish began to be dumped.

These pictures show large areas within the wood where rubbish is dumped.

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(large areas within the wood where rubbish and sawdust are dumped,
December 12, 2004)

These pictures show a mountain of construction waste in the middle of the pine wood.

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(Heaps of construction waste in the middle of the pine wood,
December 12, 2004)

This picture shows tyres, bottles, bags, plastic and heaps of all kinds of household rubbish in the pine wood.

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(Heaps of industry waste in the middle of the pine wood,
December 12, 2004)

All the negative phenomena that caused an unprecedented earlier contamination of the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha are the result of unwise and unreasoned planning of the managers of the National Park. As a consequence, the nature and people of Belovezhskaya Pushcha have to suffer from nonsensical economic plans of some mangers-"good economic planners".

A new dumping (or storage?) ground for sawdust is one more example of doubtful in terms of its efficiency planning, planning for which considerable funds are allocated, and economic or ecological benefits of which are not clear. The thriving sawmill of the National Park processes plenty of wood and at the same time produces a lot of sawdust. When timber processing was less massive, sawdust was either burnt in local boiler-houses, or bought by local people or just taken away to be dumped in a special pit. Time and again the sawdust together with rubbish and industrial waste in the pit caught fire, which negatively effected the environment. The problem of utilizing sawdust worsened after timber processing became more intensive. It was the time to think about using new technologies for producing fuel briquettes or other useful produce.

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(July 16, 2004)
However, the administration of the National Park approached the problem differently. Apparently afraid of fast-growing 'mountains' of sawdust at the nearby dumping ground, mountains that could be both unattractive and inflammable, threatening closely piled mountains of logs and non-sold timber products, the administration decided to create a new place for storing dumped sawdust two kilometers away from the sawmill, near the village of Selishche, in which a Polish businessman runs a small-power sawmill. Beside the sawmill, there is a waste land that has the area of over two hectares. The Polish businessman used to dump there the sawdust from his mill (the picture captures a moment when a local uses a small tractor to take away the sawdust for household purposes).

In a relatively short time all this land was fenced in, after which tons of sawdust from the Park's sawmill have been dumped there. A lot of prime timber was used to put up a 2-meter high fence.

The pictures show an outside view of the new dumping ground for sawdust. The fence stretches to the skyline...

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(The new dumping ground for sawdust - an outside view;
1 - October 10, 2004; 2 and 3 - December 25, 2004)

This is a view of the dump from within. The opposite side of the fence can hardly be seen...

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(The new dumping ground for sawdust from within; December 25, 2004)

The dumping ground is filled with wood-processing waste. Mountains of sawdust quickly grow in height and width.

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(The new dumping ground for sawdust; October 10, 2004)

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(The new dumping ground for sawdust;
December 25, 2004)

High-quality planks were used to fence in the dump.

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According to other sources, however, there plans to recycle the sawdust in the fenced-in area into organic compost for agricultural fields. For this purpose, the sawdust is mixed with mineral fertilizers. The future will show if creation of such places is economically justified. However, the whole matter may become just another show acted out by the administration to create an illusion of successful proactive work and for the higher-ups.

Further: Pollution of the protected forest by oil products and by drain effluent