'Coal will remain the most popular fuel in the world for a long time”
The best practices of the Far East industries will be featured in a new textbook on the environment. This was reported by Professor Nadezhda Kristoforova, the Head of the UNESCO Chair in Marine Ecology, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, and Doctor of Biological Sciences, during a visit to the Strait of Tartary coast in the Khabarovsk region.
The goal of the trip for the prominent Russian scientist, the founder of the Department of Ecology at the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), was to study the best practices and latest technologies used by today’s industrial and transport companies to preserve the environment.
Nadezhda Kristoforova and young teachers from the FEFU Department of Ecology visited the Novoshakhtinsky coal open pit in the Primorye region, the Arkaim timber processing facilities and the Vanino Bulk Terminal at the Vanino free port area, as well as a refinery in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
According to the ecologist, the main focus here is on coal and on its modern methods of production and handling. The scientist specializes in the study of environmental pollution, its assessment, and ecotoxicology.
"Today, the main goal of the ecologist is not just, and not so much, a question of fighting environmental pollution, but also to explore and promote best environmental practices, to study the leading and best practices of solving environmental problems", said Nadezhda Kristoforova.
According to the scientist, it is precisely coal, which will remain the most popular fuel in the world for a long time, especially for large-scale industry and in northern regions. When talking about the effects of coal on global warming, Prof. Kristoforova believes this is "nothing more than opportunistic maneuverings."
"Both the global warming and the global cooling of our planet occurs periodically. I do not think we need to talk so much about it. Today, China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, talks a lot – and does a lot – for the development of alternative energy sources. The target, which China and other countries have set, is 20% – and this level has yet to be achieved. The remaining 80% of our power needs is primarily covered by coal. In Japan, hydro-electric power stations have blocked all rivers – fish must now be farmed, as such, you will not see further development in this sector. And yet again, the Fukushima effect must not be forgotten. For them, Russian coal is also very important. Russian coal exports to the Asia-Pacific region now makes up the lion's share of the total exports from Far East ports. We have 22 ports in the Far East and practically all of them race to transship coal. But the problem here is that most of them are not ready for such activity given their outdated equipment and processes, which date back to Soviet times. The result is a threat to the environment. Coal dust pollutes the air, those residing near port areas protest. That is exactly why it is so important to follow best practices, to prove that coal transshipment is feasible, without harm to neither nature nor man,"believes Nadezhda Kristoforova.
The Vanino Bulk Terminal (SUEK) showed the scientists a complete dust suppression cycle – from coal rail car unloading to loading operations on ocean-going vessels.
The environmentalists highlighted the fact that a major contribution to the creation of the port’s environmental programme and the modernisation of the dust suppression system came from the port workers and engineers, which adapted modern imported equipment to take into consideration local climatic conditions and eliminated the environmental impact. At every stage of operations, coal dust emissions are practically reduced to zero.
"Today we learn from the experiences of different operations of SUEK, including coal mining and coal transshipment operations from the Novoshakhtinsky open pit to the Vanino Bulk Terminal. We can see here that technology can eliminate environmental damage throughout the entire process: from coal mining to transshipment", said Kristoforova.
Of equal interest to scientists are Arkaim’s modern timber processing facilities.
“This is 100% environmentally friendly, completely waste-free production, which does not cause any ecological damage. This is achieved on a massive scale as the giant complex works around the clock without stopping, even for a minute. The processing operations do not cause any harm to the environment or humans. This is the kind of industry we should strive for – and we should be grateful that it exists and is already working”, added the expert.
This minimisation of waste is what interested scientists in the Komsomolsk Refinery, another business in the Khabarovsk region, to which the delegation from the FEFU Department of Ecology immediately went following its visit of Vanino.
The best environmental practices from the leading companies of the Far East will be classified, studied, and presented at various scientific conferences in Russia and abroad. Additionally, this will serve as the basis for a new textbook edited by Prof. Kristoforova, which will be used at the ecology departments of the Far Eastern Federal University and other Russian universities.