Poisoning and Coverup in Sunny Tuapse

The Moscow Times reports:

A toxic fertilizer spill has caused unprecedented protests in Tuapse, which is located 110 kilometers north of Sochi, pictured in this file photo. Sochi and neighboring areas will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

A toxic fertilizer spill in Tuapse, Krasnodar region, has sparked unprecedented protests in the small seaside town, with locals venting their rage at development that they say is putting their lives and health in danger.

About 3,000 residents of Tuapse, located just 110 kilometers north of Sochi, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, rallied in protest on Saturday. They called for a fertilizer shipping terminal, owned by fertilizer giant EuroChem, to be shut down.

In March, a spill at the centrally located terminal, which is still not officially operational, blanketed the town in fertilizer dust, leading to a spike in respiratory problems throughout the town, locals said.

“Since the terminal is not ready for operation, the loading belt broke, and a large quantity of fertilizer fell, creating a cloud that quickly swept over the town,” said Yelena Leonidova, who can see the terminal from her window.

People whose windows face the terminal saw workers dumping fertilizers from the ship into the water, which many cite as the cause of the dead fish and dolphins that washed up on shore in the following weeks, said Anna Tesheva, a biologist who lives about a kilometer from the terminal.

“Usually there are only three dolphins per year that are washed ashore dead, and most of the time they are physically damaged, but since the loading in March, nine dead animals have been found on the coast,” she said.

The dolphins were quickly disposed of, and their cause of death was never made public.

“We are a small town, and everything is controlled,” Tesheva said. “Although clinics were full of people with poisoning symptoms, they were all diagnosed with the common cold and allergies,” she said.

“For two days I suffered from sharp headaches, a sore throat, and constant nausea and thirst,” Leonidova said. “The stadium next to my house was covered with the fertilizer, making it look as though it had just hailed,” she said. “People were afraid to go outside.”

Since 1999, Tuapse has seen an explosion in the construction of various shipping terminals for loading grain, oil, sulphur and other commodities.

For Tuapse residents, the fertilizer spill was the last straw.

“People are at a boiling point now,” said Yevgeny Vitishko, who heads the Tuapse environmental council. “The terminal is not ready, the transport belt gallery is not finished, the main warehouse is not finished. The terminal has not officially begun operation, and yet it is in operation,” he said.

While the company has said the loadings in March were “test loadings,” Vitishko said EuroChem, Russia’s largest fertilizer producer, may have been filling orders that it had agreed to before the company began running behind on its construction schedule.

EuroChem began building the terminal, which can handle 2.3 million tons per year, in 2007 in order to cut transportation costs on its exports.

A woman who answered the phone at the Tuapse Bulk Terminal would not connect a reporter with anyone authorized to comment Tuesday. EuroChem spokesman Vladimir Torin could not be reached for comment. Viktor Koshel, head of the Tuapse district administration, was not available for comment either, his assistant said.

In an interview with news web site Yuga.ru last month, EuroChem logistics director Pavel Yakovlev denied all allegations regarding the spill. “Information about poisoning people is from the realm of fantasy. There couldn’t have been any poisonings, since there was no accident in the first place, and there is not one proven record of our workers seeking medical attention due to some poisoning,” he said.

Many in the community claim that four workers were hospitalized and eventually died after the spill, and others complain of continued nausea.

Protesters on Saturday also called for the town to be reclassified as a municipality, rather than a settlement. In 2007, the town held a referendum on a measure that changed the status of Tuapse, a town of 60,000 people, from a municipality to a settlement and merged it with the Tuapse district.

Since the district has limited oversight ability, the reclassification loosened regulation on the terminal, whose operations would have been more strictly followed by the city authorities, Vitishko said.

The 2007 referendum broadly supported the reclassification, but some say the results were falsified.

Sergei Rozhkov, a local journalist, who wrote about the vote rigging, was charged with assaulting police in February 2008 after six officers arrested him at his house one night, took him to the police department and beat him into a concussion. He was sentenced to three years in prison and was released only last week.

Rozhkov now stays away from protests, he said when contacted by phone Tuesday.

A further report from the MT:

Residents of Tuapse, a Black Sea coastal town, protested over the weekend against what they viewed as a chemical spill. But fertilizer company Eurochem said Thursday that the only fertilizer released into the air at its Tuapse shipping terminal was part of a test required by regulators.

Fertilizer giant EuroChem said Thursday that the only fertilizer released into the air at its Tuapse shipping terminal was part of a test, required by regulators to ensure that the facility’s safeguards work properly.

Thousands of residents of the small town on the Black Sea coast protested the terminal over the weekend, claiming that a fertilizer spill led to several illnesses among residents and the death of several dolphins.

EuroChem spokesman Vladimir Torin said a test loading was carried out on March 15 to satisfy technical requirements. A small amount of dust was released in order to set sensors that operate a dust filter, he said.

“There were no breakdowns, no victims, no poisonings, no emergency situations at all,” he said by telephone from Tuapse.

The Tuapse branch of the Transportation Prosecutor’s Office has charged the company with nine administrative violations, including loading fertilizer before the Tuapse Bulk Terminal was operational and violating environmental protection legislation.

EuroChem paid the fines imposed by the prosecutor’s office and is waiting for a decision by the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Inspection to bring the terminal into operation, Torin said.

EuroChem carried out environmental inspections after the test loading, and according to the results of the test, the air quality around the coast “meets the requirements of regulatory documents” and is not harmful to people.

But an atmospheric test conducted between March 18 and March 23 by the Tuapse branch of the Laboratory Analyses Center (controlled by the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Inspection) showed that the concentration of ammonia, which had spilled into the atmosphere in the loading area, was 1.074 milligrams per meter, which exceeds the legal limit.

EuroChem was loading carbamide, used in fertilizer and animal feed, onto two ships owned by foreign companies, including a Turkish one, Torin said. He added that the test might be skewed because samples were taken from a part of the ship where ammonia concentration could be high.

The head of Tuapse’s central municipal hospital, Vladimir Svazyan, was not available for comment Thursday, but he told reporters that the hospital had received no poisoning victims as patients.

EuroChem said it was at fault for not warning the town residents or the Tuapse administration that there would be a test loading.

Viktor Koshel, head of the Tuapse district, said it was the lack of transparency at EuroChem that resulted in the uproar among the city residents.

The local administration will “make every effort to close the Tuapse Bulk Terminal if the March event or a similar incident occurs again,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

Tuapse residents and environmentalists on Wednesday asked local deputies to hold a referendum on closing the terminal. They also called for a moratorium on building new industrial plants in the community and expanding existing ones.

28 responses to “Poisoning and Coverup in Sunny Tuapse

  1. Voice of Reason

    Tuapse residents should be glad they don’t have British Petroleum to deal with.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Translation from Russophobic gibberish: “Ouch! That makes my hero Vladimir Putin look terrible! Let me try to change the subject fast!”

    But do you really think it makes the people of Tuapse feel better to know that the people of New Orleans are also suffering? Can you really be that utterly obtuse? Maybe you should set foot in Tuapse and draw a deep breath first, dimwit?

    All through Soviet times the lying, evil government made the same argument (ever heard of Chernnobyl?), saying America was much worse off. But it was the USSR, not the USA, that collapsed in disgrace.

    • Why, because BP has publicly stated that any and all claims will be compensated, and that they will ignore the cap on compensation and pay out in full?

      As opposed to the usual Russian rapers of the environment who claim that no accident ever happened?

      Really you are a moron.

    • You see, that’s your typical deflection tactics. Even if the BP had Hitler for the CEO, how does that justify anything going in Tuapse. Why do you think that if people do stupid and bad things all over the world, that’s always justification for Russian deeds.

      • But this is a Russia blog, not condemn-the-West-and-its-oil-companies-blog. You can take your concerns to other places

      • Voice of Reason

        You, LR and I live in USA, not in Russia. To us, the enormous and still growing oil spill in the Gulf should be of much more importance than the comparatively tiny spill in Tuapse. To me it is.

        LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

        In your troglyditic ignorance, you don’t know that Lousiana does not have nuclear missiles pointed at the USA, nor does it fly nuclear bombers next to our coastline. Collapse or military attack by Russia would be far more dangerous to the USA than collapse or military attack by Louisiana.

        BTW, your desperation as worse and worse news flows in is really rather amusing.

        A famous Soviet joke: “An American walks up to a hotel manager in Moscow and complains about the horrible service and accommodations. The manager replies: ‘Yes, but you lynch blacks.'”

        Ironically, today Russia not only still has the same wretched service but it’s the one lynching blacks.

        • lynching blacks? wretched service? frankly, duffer, have you ever been to Russia since 1990? where exactly did you find this “wretched service”? where exactly did you find that “lynching blacks”?

          • Voice of Reason

            where exactly did you find this “wretched service”?

            At cheap hotels that cost $15 per night. When LR staff travel, they exercise economic frugality. That also explains why they hate Russian restaurant food: you can’t expect much on a $6 per diem allowance.

        • Voice of Reason

          So, the little pesticide spill in a Black Sea town of Tuapse is more dangerous to Americnas than the huge unstoppable BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, because this little pesticide spill in Tuapse will force Russia to collapse and then to attack USA militarily? Interesting logic.

          BTW, your desperation as worse and worse news flows in is really rather amusing.

          Well, I live in California, so the BP spill hasn’t affected me much yet, but my cousin in New Orleans is indeed becoming more and more desperate, as the oil keeps on gushing and gushing out for more than a month now, with no end in sight. But I fail to see what is so amusing to you about oil and pesticide spills.

          Ironically, today Russia not only still has the same wretched service but it’s the one lynching blacks.

          What do hotel service and lynching blacks have to do with pesticide and oil spills? That’s a classic demagoguery tactic of diversion, and indeed the old Soviet joke makes fun of these tactics.

          On the other hand, comparing oil spills and pesticide spills into seas is a relevant comparison.

          • Wow ReTaRd, did your entire extended family move from Russia to the USA?

            Now you have cousins there too?

            If even your cousins move to the USA, then what does that say about Russia?

            • Er, it says they want to travel visa-free, and earn three times as much for the same job?

              • What you mentioned are elements of freedom, economic freedom, political freedom etc. People want freedom, even Russians do, despite what you were saying before.

                And by the way, I have to tell you that in some ways I really respect you for being a straightforward and principled person even though I disagree with you on almost everything. If you say Russia is great, you at least act like it is and stay there. And with your obvious excellent English skills (I assume the conversational skills are equally impressive), you would have no problems making it in America or England or maybe Canada.

                That’s what distinguishes you from Mr. Voice who extols Russia from a safe distance. I guess Russia is great for other people, but not for himself or his family, including cousins in New Orleans. And he does not mind receiving all those benefits of America while pouring barrels of trash at her at the same time. Being an ingrate is very shameful in my view.

                Of course, he’ll tell us that he loves America and only “criticizes” Bush or capitalism or oil companies or whatever in order to make the country better. But I just don’t believe it. His tone is too nasty and hysterical for somebody who only wants improvements.

                • Hey, thanks for the compliment. Sad, but my work demands a very good command of language, better than average native speaker level. I won’t be able to work on a same job in an English-speaking country, nost probably.

                  And a compliment in return – you, of all the “opposite side” supporters do evoke most interest, and respect. That’s not that often a Russian like can meet a genuine US neocon (that’s what you look like, please take no offence) with a clear understanding of what is going on around in other countries (even if his POV on all of this is different from mine).

                  Well, mais revenons a nos moutons:D

                  I am sorry but the following would be a little bit incoherent set of points, otherwise I would have to write a 5-screener, and these are Anrew’s classics, not mine:D

                  What I mentioned in the previous post are also two outcomes of colonial system. In every Western (former) metropoly country people earn more than in every (former) colony. Like Gandhi said, Britain used half a planet to become so developed, how many Earths would India need?

                  That are the two main reasons why people emigrate. When they tell you they chose friedom, don’t trust it – they chose money and absence of bureaucracy. 95% of them.

                  And, yes, all the West is a visa-free space, as it shares the same values. The ones you call freedom (I agree), and most of the world calls hypocrisy (I rather agree too). But that is limited to citizens of the “fortress Europe” and the “fortress US”.

                  One of the (many) reasons world calls it hypocricy is what happens to freedoms when you are being hit hard (take McCarthy’s witch hunts, Vietnam, Black Panthers, 9/11, burqas in Belgium and minarets in Switzerland, and whatever other examples).

                  Ideal freedom should be flawless. Every sane person understands it would never be such, because that would mean eternal weakness. However, no man in Russia or China would believe the US risked so much during 9/11, that the reaction of the government (including internal measures, like following the US sitizens) must have been so harsh. That dissapoints many. The US keeps on dissapointing them.

                  That is exactly what Voice of Reason speaks about. He tells us the US, on many occasions, have gone too far beyound reasonable measures. In Iraq, in Afghanistan, with Ukraine and Georgia, and numerous others.

                  Have you ever wondered how did Russia turn to this limited isolationism in the late 90ies? Why China grown so strong in the 90ies? Why your country needs to keep it’s soldiers in the absolute majority of the countries? What was wrong with the US all these years after the collapce of the USSR, if world hates them?

                  Voice of Reason obviously does. And it looks like he’s got some answers.

                  Just don’t misunderstand me: I know the US problems are much less pressing, than those of Russia (depopulation, fuels dependancy, lack of foreign investment, lack of democracy, etc.) But the US problems are of a much larger scope, problems that can one day bury us all.

                  Every US Republican president after Reagan left the country with a larger external debt. Under every Democrat administration the debt shrinked. That is because your army is your weakness, and your Coca-Cola is your power. And this means every Republican president made your country weaker, closer to a well-armed beggar, when China became an unarmed magnate. That is also one of the point Voice makes.

                  As to modern Russia, it poses absolutely no threat to the US, compared to China, and I don’t even see a single reason to discuss it at all. All the US politicians’ rants that Russia is a new Evil Empire is ust a way to distract attention from more important issues. Like, say, gross state debt which is 11 times more than annual exports. It’s always cool to kick a corpse of a fallen enemy, but it is usually a gesture of pure expression, and not something very useful (economically, not politically).

                  • Thank you for you kind words, Dmitry, but let me assure you, I am not a neocon but more like a moderately conservative Democrat and quite liberal on all social issues at that. Neocons are supposed to be the followers of G.W. Bush, but I have never supported him and never voted for him. I don’t care for his politics, including foreign policy. He is, however, not a stupid man in my view (one who is stupid simply cannot rise that high, money or connections notwithstanding). He is just very inarticulate and bumbling, so a lot of people think he is dumb

                    • So even if you’re right abt Bush, this won’t prevent you from calling Putin a dictator?:)

                • Voice of Reason

                  Dmitry // May 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm
                  I’ for myself, live in Barcelona.

                  RV // May 25, 2010 at 5:19 pm
                  That’s what distinguishes you from Mr. Voice who extols Russia from a safe distance. I guess Russia is great for other people, but not for himself or his family, including cousins in New Orleans.

                  RV, for you information, Barcelona is far from Russia. It is in Spain, which is in the southwest of Europe:

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain

            • Voice of Reason

              Andrew, , didn’t you and your cousins move out of New Zealand? What does this say about New Zealand?

              • Its small.

                However, we moved to many different countries, and we don’t slag off our new homes.

                Unlike you.

                Once again, if you hate the US so much, return to Russia, after all, I am sure it would raise the average IQ of both countries.

                • Nice last point, really funny:) I’m also sure you don’t have to go back to kiwis for the same reason:)

                • Voice of Reason

                  Dmitry, this is a very old American joke from some 80 years ago. It was about a man who moved from Oklahoma to Texas. The reason why Andrew knows this joke is that it reached Andrew’s home country of New Zealand in 1980s and became a very famous joke about Australia. In fact, there are 2 Wikipedia articles about it:

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_humour

                  Australians are the butt of Kiwi humour (and vice versa) — even at the highest diplomatic level. During the 1980s, then Prime Minister of New Zealand Robert Muldoon was asked about the increasing exodus of New Zealanders leaving the country to work in Australia. His comment was that by doing so, they were raising the average IQ of both countries. The joke derives from the Will Rogers phenomenon.

                  In general terms, Australians are stereotyped in New Zealand humour as being brash, boorish, lazy and more than a little stupid. New Zealanders, in return, are seen by Aussies as being dull, stupid.
                  ————–

                  As can be seen on the example of Bohdan and Andrew, these are very correct descriptions: brash, boorish, lazy, dull, stupid.

                  It is equally true that those people, who are, like Andrew, part of the exodus from New Zealand, have sub-par intelligence compared to other New Zealanders.

                  ————

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers_phenomenon

                  The Will Rogers phenomenon is obtained when moving an element from one set to another set raises the average values of both sets. It is based on the following quote, attributed (perhaps incorrectly) to comedian Will Rogers. The effect will occur when both of these conditions are met:

                  * The element being moved is below average for its current set. Removing it will, by definition, raise the average of the remaining elements.

                  * The element being moved is above the current average of the set it is entering. Adding it to the new set will, by definition, raise the average.
                  ———

                  • Then I’m withdrawing my previous comment.

                    I mean, the first part of it, about the funny joke, not the second abt Andrew’s mental abilities :D

                • I don’t know if he has a low IQ, but that he is an ingrate, that’s for sure

  2. I’ve not seen Russia Today recently. No doubt it’ll cover events near Sochi comprehensively and rigorously by focusing on the fact that similar and worse incidents happen elsewhere. Maybe the person who wrote about BP is a script writer for RT.

  3. “Poisoning and Coverup” is a standard policy and procedure of the kremlin.

    Russia’s drug enforcement chief Viktor Ivanov told a news conference:

    Russia is the world’s biggest per capita user of heroin —

    Ivanov said Russia annually consumed 35 tonnes of heroin alone.

    Up to 2.5 million Russians are drug addicts, and some 90 percent of them use heroin. Each year 30,000 Russian drug users die and 80,000 people try narcotics for the first time.

    Ivanov said Russia accounted for a fifth of the world’s market of opiates estimated at a total of $65 billion.

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/67485/20/page/1/#comments

  4. Francis Smyth-Beresford

    According to company literature, Eurochem plans to expand.

    http://www.bcpsecurities.com/textos/update1/BCP%20Securities-Report%20on%20Eurochem-Nov%202008.pdf

    Other sources put their 2009 profit at 11 Billion R+; a big drop from 2008, but still a lot of money (that came from Russia Today, so I didn’t bother to cite it, but I imagine the figure is fairly accurate). Their long term rating from western bond-rating firms is iffy, but they’re still managing to turn a nice profit every year and are moving up.

    Bottom line, they can easily afford to tighten up their loading/unloading procedures so spills don’t happen, and build a proper terminal. This was sloppy and careless, and didn’t need to happen.

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