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The water in Lake Baikal is toxic. Who’s guilty?

Lake Baikal is considered one of the main natural assets of Russia. The deepest lake in Siberia, one of the oldest on the planet, a reserve of clean drinking water for many years, but … today most often appears in the media with scandalous informational events in the spirit of “Baikal was sold to the Chinese” and “Drinking water bottling plants devastate Baikal” and others .

Volunteers on Baikal
The sensation of the last days: Lake Baikal, the largest natural reservoir of fresh water on the planet, has been poisoned! According to the director of the Limnological (Lake History – Auth.) Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Andrei Fedotov, you can no longer drink Baikal water. The concentration of bacteria releasing toxic substances exceeded the limits of acceptable values.

They have been talking and writing about the fact that Baikal is facing an environmental disaster, documentaries and feature films have been shot for more than a dozen years. And now such a catastrophe has become a reality, otherwise how to evaluate the statement of Andrei Fedotov?


Baikal Lake

Traditionally: who is to blame?
There are many reasons for the pollution of Lake Baikal. And the old ones, and those who spoke relatively recently. One of them is named in a statement by Sergei Fedotov – large-scale forest fires in the Trans-Baikal Territory. Their number over the past decade has increased in the Irkutsk region many times. The harness is in most cases specifically to then cut down the forest for sale in China. The scale of these fires and uncontrolled clear-cutting is shocking, especially from an airplane.

From constant forest fires, the lake is infected with ammonia, it is a biogenic component, it contributes to the intensive reproduction of spirogyra, this algae (simply green mud) kills sponges – a powerful biological filter that has been purifying Baikal waters for millions of years.

Fires in the Irkutsk region
Also anthropogenic impact plays an important role – that is, people living on the coast and in cities located near the rivers that feed Lake Baikal. Sewage is dumped into the lake along almost the entire coast where people live. Ecosystems that have developed here over many thousands of years in pure water are dying rapidly. Baikal needs to build at least 18 modern wastewater treatment plants so that its sewage does not drain into it. For example, the Selenga River flows here, the waters of which carry drains from the treatment facilities of the city of Ulan-Ude. Scientists say that according to the most conservative estimates, only 13,100 tons of nitrates, 702 tons of nitrites and 1900 tons of ammonium got into excess of the permissible standards.

Several plants for bottling Baikal water operate on Baikal. They take less water than the volume that can harm. But their construction was carried out in the coastal zone of Lake Baikal, which could not but harm the ecosystem. In addition, they all have production waste and put an additional burden on the fragile ecosystem of the lake. Therefore, ecologists have recently taken up arms against the construction of the next plant by the Chinese. The latter, as is well known with ecology, never stand on ceremony, leaving behind themselves only “scorched” land. Thanks to the media hype, the construction of the plant was stopped. Special thanks to Sergey Zverev, who actively advocated for the cessation of construction.
Construction of a plant for bottling water on Lake Baikal
Sergey Zverev against the construction of a plant for bottling water on Lake Baikal
Other causes that have long been known are the disastrous effects of the pulp and paper mill (PPM) in Baikalsk. Since 2013, the company has not been functioning. But we should not forget that the pulp and paper mill began work in 1966, the public vigorously protested against its construction, famous scientists, writers spoke out. Representatives of the then government made smart faces, talked about state interests, about the complete safety of the plant for Lake Baikal, and the pulp and paper mill was built. Now we know that for half a century the plant dumped about ten tons of dioxin into the lake (data from the Institute of Geochemistry SB RAS). For reference: dioxin is deadly for living organisms (including humans) at a concentration of 0.001 grams.


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