A group of scientists from the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) says it found no traces of toxins in the rivers near a major pesticide landfill in Kozelsk, which is considered to be one of the possible sources of the pollution that has tainted Kamchatka’s Pacific coastline and decimated local marine life.
Citing work by Kirill Vinnikov, the head of the university’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Aquatic Organisms Laboratory, FEFU Vice-Rector Dmitry Zemtsov announced on Facebook that scientists tested for evidence of pollution in the Mutnushka River (which flows from the landfill) and the Nalycheva River (the only route from the area to the ocean). Insect levels were normal, indicating no pesticide leak, and the river water itself showed no signs of pollution.
Zemtsov noted that most of the scientists’ observations were made visually, though they also collected samples of water, bottom soil, and riverline creatures for comprehensive analysis. The biologists also measured background radiation in the area, recording levels significantly below normal.
A mass pollution event in Avacha Bay was first reported in late September by local surfers. Scientists have determined that the contamination has killed roughly 95 percent of the coastline’s marine life.
The cause of the pollution remains unknown, but regional officials in Kamchatka say it’s either toxic microalgae, seismic activity, or industrial runoff. Governor Vladimir Solodov says the pesticide landfill in Kozelsk is the likeliest culprit.