Ecological disaster in the Kamchatka Peninsula. Khalaktyrsky beach photo by Kristy_Rozenberg
The black volcanic sand of Khalaktyrsky Beach – one of the jewels of the Kamchatka Peninsula near its largest city Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky – is littered with hundreds of dead marine animals, from giant Pacific octopuses to seals, sea urchins, stars, crabs and fish.
The waves of the Pacific Ocean, once popular with local surfers and popular with tourists, now emit a strong toxic odor; the color of the water has a light yellow tint.
The tightly-knit local surfing community reported problems with the beach three weeks ago, claiming they had a burning sensation in their eyes, severe headaches, often fever, sore throats and a feeling out of sight after getting out of the water.
Now it appears that even staying near water produces a toxic effect, posing in photos of gas masks.
They continue to dive to keep abreast of the state of marine animals, bringing devastating news that once thriving underwater life is gone, with even the strongest shells that could tear open, dead wetsuits.
The seals behave as if in a trance, they said, refusing to dive and spending as long as possible on the surface.
Below, photos by Vladimir Solodov show the collection of samples at Khalaktyrsky beach outside of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
Regional Ministry of Natural Resources checks showed that there was a spike in the levels of phenols (2.5 times) and petroleum products (3.6 times).
An urgent investigation into the cause of the water contamination was ordered today by Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, Yury Trutnev.
Two versions are discussed so far, one being recent military training in Kamchatka causing the ecological disaster.
Another is the leakage of petroleum products and phenol from ships crossing the Gulf of Avacha.
Ecological disaster in the Kamchatka Peninsula. Video of Khalaktyrsky beach by Kristy_Rozenberg
Earlier today, several local residents posted satellite images shared by Greenpeace Russia, showing a yellow-colored river flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
There is a military training ground upstream, they said.
“We get new information every hour; just recently we got satellite imagery from @greenpeaceru of the river flowing into the ocean which obviously killed everything.
“Upstream from the stream, there is a military training ground. Knowing how the system works and how these kinds of questions fall silent, we must do everything in our power to save the ocean and defend it from disaster in the future, ”wrote one of the surfers under the nickname Yola_La.
“Our beautiful underwater world is now gray and yellow in color. The fish looks like it has been boiled. Even the strongest shells that could tear a spacesuit fell from the rocks. The scariest part is that we don’t know what to do, how to help. I watch the beautiful sunset over Avacha Bay, knowing that its bottom is covered with dead marine animals, ”wrote another inhabitant by the name of Kristy_Rozenberg.
Satellite image shared by Greenpeace Russia, dating from early September 2020
Greenpeace today demanded an immediate investigation into the reasons for the contamination.
The extent is not yet determined but the fact that the dead animals are found all along the coast confirms the seriousness of the incident, specifies the environmental activist group.
“Eyewitnesses said the water at Khalaktyrsky beach had changed color and was no longer safe for people’s health,” a statement said.
“For weeks, people have reported feeling white haze in their eyes, dry eyes, worsening eyesight and sore throats.
“Doctors recorded burns to the cornea of the eyes. Many people who have drunk water also experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, high fever, which may indicate phenol poisoning.
The magnificent volcanic black sand beach before the poisoning. Photos: The Siberian Times, Ilyas Abkadyrov
The head of the Greenpeace Climate Project in Russia, Vasily Yablokov, called for immediate action to contain, clean up and prevent any new pollution.
“Pollution of the water at Khalaktyrsky beach has already resulted in the death of marine animals and the poisoning of people.
“The unique nature of Kamchatka, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, is under threat.
“One of the best surfing beaches in Russia, one of the main tourist attractions in the region is now in danger of death …”.