Illegal dumping in Uch-Dere
The illegal dumping problem is painfully known to residents of Sochi, in particular to residents of villages Loo, Atarbekovo, and Uch-Dere (Lazarevsky region of Sochi). People are fighting against ongoing for years illegal dumping in the Uch-Dere village. “ [D]espite years of promises to close it as part of the Sochi Olympic environmental program, locals fight a nightly war with illegal dump trucks that bring garbage from all over the city.”
The village is about 40 kilometers up the Black Sea coast from the Olympic Park. The dumping site in Uch-Dere is the only waste site of Sochi. The size of the site is over 12 hectares, a 50-metre-high mountain of waste. Many trucks unload waste less than 200 meters from the nearest houses. Most of works take place during the night.
The situation with the Uch-Dere illegal dump can be easily named as environmental catastrophe. More than 10,000 people live in the negatively impacted area, 11 big health resorts and more than 150 private hotels are situated within such area.
The dump is functioning and it is proved by public environmental inspection conducted by residents of villages Loo, Atarbekovo, and Uch-Dere, and organized by the local branch of the political party “Yabloko” and Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC).
The following facts were established during the public environmental inspection:
- the dump is combined and it consists of construction waste and solid domestic waste;
- is not within any control;
- recultivation is being conducted without proper engineering constructions and security (ex., no walls or insulation are installed on the landfill);
- massive erosion is taking place;
- hotbeds of fire are determined;
- lakes of leaking chemicals present all over the landfill;
- thermal chemical reactions on the territory of the landfill, as well as gas release and stench have been established;
- during the inspection, around 40 trucks unloaded waste;
- natural soils were also unloaded – this constitutes that permanent recultivation is not happening; such concealment may lead to massive underground fires with toxic releases;
- the river Bitkha on the site of dumping is highly polluted. Untreated, it falls right into Black Sea which is only 1 kilometer away. Several health resorts are located in the area where the river Bitkha falls in the Sea. It has been happening for years. The seashore, where Bitkha falls in, is not equipped with any sign that swimming is prohibited. In facts, people are swimming there.
- Chemicals from the dump also leach to the territory of Sochi National Park and its lake.
Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are proclaimed ‘green’ and vouched to solve the Sochi waste problem. In June, Sochi’s major declared the dump closed and it is announced by regional authorities that the landfill will be turned into a park.
Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee has a “Zero waste” standard which promises “up-to-date system of waste management”, “non-waste technologies”, and recycling. “Zero waste means that all waste produced during the Games is treated on-site,” said Organising Committee chief Dmitry Chernyshenko. “But we go much further in our environmental responsibilities.”
According to authorities, the dump is closed and not functioning at the moment. “When asked by AFP about Sochi’s waste problem at a press conference [in February, 2013], Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak denied its [landfill] existence.”
Importantly, police have threatened locals to prosecute them when they complained. During the protest last year, several people were arrested.
In addition to Olympic obligation to treat environment in a responsible manner and obligations under the Host City Contract signed by the IOC, on the one hand, and Russian Olympic Committee and the City of Sochi, on the other hand, there is a court decision that obliges the city to “take trash out of Uch-Dere before the ruined landscape is restored by the end of 2012.”
Apparently, the court decision is blatantly ignored along with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, Water Code, Federal law on environmental protection, Federal law on waste treatment, Federal law on protected natural sites and other environmental and health laws as well as the Convention on the protection of the Black Sea against pollution to which Russia is a party (signed and ratified).
P.S. “One hundred years ago, Uch-Dere, a spectacular cape on Russia’s Black Sea coast covered by lush greenery, was picked by the Russian tsarist family for dachas.”