It is reported by the residents of Russia’s Magadan region that soot produced by an outdated, coal-powered water-heating plant is actually becoming a major concern as the snow is being blackened by the soot produced by this power plant. Thus they have complained of a polluted winter that brings snow “black as night”.
In Omsukchn and neighboring Seimchan, two villages in the Siberian far East, snow does not always look the way it is supposed to be seen. In fact, the complete opposite scene has been viewed. Instead of a clean white sheath, black and soot-covered snow has been faced by the residents where the kids sometimes play.
Coal pollution is an actual cause of this soot, causing vast changes in natural scenes as well as in the living styles of locals. Omsukchan is home to a coal-burning hot water plant that provides warmth to several settlements in the locality, and as temperatures drop in winter, more coal needs to be burned to warm the water according to the needs in the winter months. Thus increased amounts of soot becomes an undesirable outcome.
With temperatures dropping below 50 C, the plant has been working at full capacity, creating more amounts of soot with more burning of coal than usual. People are very concerned about the same and some of them have posted serious comments on social media as well. A local wrote on Social Media, “This is Omsukchan village and the snow is black – completely black. Our children still breathe soot, nothing ever seems to change here.”
Oksana Gerasimova, the head of the Srednekansky district, told Magadan Pravda newspaper that plant is indeed to blame but he further mentioned the fact that the situation is somehow better than it was a few years ago. It is true that the ash collectors at the plant don’t do a perfect job, but the situation is only temporary and the black snow is apparently “not a reason to worry”.
Authorities want to replace the old plant with a new one with electricity-powered operations. This process will require new sources of funding. Many people in Omsukchan and Seimchan have heard such talks before and they are not getting their hopes up.