WPB: Sergey, I would like to address you as an expert from our company WPB, and from the public as well. We represent the company WPB;
my name is Ivan Kuzmin.
I am the executive director of this company and I would like to report an offence in the city of Norilsk, where we worked with an international company Sandvik, for which we implemented a Maintenance Base project to service the mining equipment of the Norilsk region.
We have information that a conflict situation has arisen related to environmental violations by Sandvik. It has been seriously disturbing the ecology of the region for a year now;
in particular, it discharges liquid toxic waste into Norilsk's water bodies. This takes place directly within the city, in the industrial area "Valkovskoye shosse".
We have agreed with SANDVIK on a wastewater treatment plant project, but the latter has never been installed under neither for the maintenance area nor the sanitary sewer system.
According to our designers' calculations, more than 2,000 (two thousand) tons of waste has been discharged into Norilsk's water bodies as of today.
As you probably know the geography and geology of Norilsk (Taymyr region) – this is the area of interconnected water bodies.
And what we are witnessing is quite serious damage to the nature of the Taymyr. Sandvik is an international holding company, one of the world leaders with tens of thousands of employees worldwide. This company proclaim very stringent standards in all areas, environment is among them, but, unfortunately, what SANDVIK proclaims differs from what they do.
SANDVIK is failing to comply with its obligations to treat the sewer.
We would like to transfer to you, as a representative of the Public Council under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, the documents vis-a-vis this violation and ask to resolve this problem within the legal framework and Public Council initiative.
We all know that not only the high executives of the Russian Federation keep an eye on Norilsk, but the international community as well.
This is a sore point for all of us and especially for the Nordic countries, which are constantly pointing out to Russia the environmental violations in this area.
In this situation, it is the international company that is violating the environment. Let's begin with the transfer of documents.
OSM: Yes, show me, what you've prepared. WPB: We have a heavy package of documents.
One of the key documents is a letter from the administration, in which it invites Sandvik to collect the entire package of documents, undergo an examination and approve this project. This letter is dated September 18, 2020. Nothing done.
OSM: Is this for treatment plants?
WPB: It's all over the SANDVIK facility
OSM: Which ones are now operating without wastewater treatment plants?
WPB: Without any treatment facilities, without any approval from the administration, without approval from any authorized bodies.
The facility was completely rebuilt.
This is now a completely different building, and no permits have been obtained for it. And the Client, Sandvik Company is not going to receive any approvals as of today.
OSM: And neither it plans to build any treatment plants?
WPB: Not at all.
OSM: And wastewater discharge goes directly, without treatment?
WPB: Exactly, with no treatment.
Moreover, we notified Sandvik about this. The dialogue about
the need to install the wastewater treatment plants has been going on since last summer.
Moreover, there is a design that Sandvik has agreed on.
This is a water supply and sewerage project. Approved for Construction...
OSM: Is there a sewage treatment plant on the design?
WPB: Yes, but these sewage treatment plants were not included in our contract costs, and we were denied a budget to build the sewage treatment plant. And in fact, no sewage treatment plants were built.
OSM: That is, sewage treatment plants are needed to clean toxic waste. How are these toxic effluents formed?
What does Sandvick do in this territory?
WPB: There is an industrial wash to clean the industrial parts
OSM: Industrial wash.
OSM: With the use of chemicals, right?
WPB: Absolutely right. You can look it up, it's a chemical reagent and petroleum products. From the mines. They bring the parts for maintenance from all the Taymyr region
OSM: Is this the wash itself?
WPB: Yes, it's the industrial wash itself. We have the serial number.
We are ready to transfer on all the information.
Through such a pipe, there is a discharge from this wash. This waste is mixed with household sewage and slowly, day by day - up to about 10 m3 of waste per day.
This has been going on since the spring of 2020.
OSM: shows a photo of the pipe Photo of the pipe. The Swedish company Sandvik.
In the center of Norilsk, in the industrial district, within the urban area. President said that we must remove unauthorized landfills from cities, and in our city of Norilsk, the Swedish company Sandvik is making toxic wastewater discharges
WPB: shows the photo All the discharges go into this creek.
You see what the region is like? Fascinating nature
OSM: shows the photo From the creek it all goes into the urban water system. You mentioned the company that produces and discharges this toxic effluent. Did SANDVIK engage in dialogue when the authorities told it that these discharges must be treated?
WPB: Sandvik is not going for any dialogues. They say there is no budget for this (or maybe no intention). It's hard to say.
Our partners have submitted wastewater for analysis to the certified laboratories.
OSM: shows the document Accredited laboratories.
Multiple violations on petroleum products. Ivan, all the documents you submitted have the Sandvik logo on them. It turns out that this corporation itself is engaged.
Shows photo. I see that there's a hole in the floor, and they (through it) just directly discharge all the drains. It doesn't even look like a Swedish company.
Are you sure it's Sandvik?
WPB: I am. Let me explain it, Sergey. Yes, this is Sandvik, an international holding company.
It's "Sandvik Mining and Construction CIS" LLC It is a 100% subsidiary of SANDVIK AB, and all investments, all projects are directly managed from Sweden.
There is absolutely no self-activity from the local office. Of course, you can always blame everything on the performers, but this is not the situation, because here all the projects are directly managed by Swedish top management directly from Sweden. When we began working with Sandvik, we assumed that everything would go in accordance with Russian law, without violations. The company is large and must follow all the codes and standards.
Note that this company has over 40,000 employees. There are very large turnovers, and, in fact, you will see from official sources that for 2019 alone, the turnover of Sandvik Mining & Construction CIS LLC was 16 or 17 billion rubles. That's hundreds of millions of euros.
OSM: So, they have money for the sewage treatment plant? The fact that they did not include these costs in the estimate thus shows their attitude to the Russian Arctic, which we consider a vulnerable area. The Arctic must be protected. It is our Western partners who talk about the Arctic being polluted, Greenpeace is drawing polar bears with oil stains. At the same time, we see a position when for Russian people "there is no need to build sewage treatment plants, because the company can directly discharge toxic effluent without treatment." WPB: Here the words do not meet the actions and, moreover, the Russian Arctic does not only mean a lot to this unit of Sandvik, since the Norilsk region pays huge amount of money for the equipment and services.
It is this branch that generates up to half of the turnover in several areas for Sandvik. They have high rate of sales here, and I do not understand this situation, because as soon as the Maintenance Base began its operation, the expenditures needed for treatment plants or fire safety were immediately blocked.
And in response to all our requests, SANDVIK changed the locks at the facility and we were told: " You come at a strictly set time and do what we tell you.
And it's better not even to show up here! "
OSM: Do you feel that you may be acting as an accomplice to this environmental crime that's going on there?
WPB: Yes, after working with Sandvik, we checked with the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. It has Article 246, which has been applied in cases of other similar disasters.
So, we don't want to be complicit, the Maintenance Base operates without permits, without any permits.
We are still a general contractor because even though the facility operates, the construction contract didn't finish.
It seems to us that Sandvik wants to shift this responsibility to someone, including us, and maybe then to the administration of the city of Norilsk.
OSM: They leave their footprints everywhere. All the equipment they supply says "Sandvik," the discharge as well. Instead of a sewage treatment plant, it's just a hole in the floor. Shows a photo This is the wash where the equipment is washed, and it says "Sandvik" everywhere.
WPB: The finalized as-built drawing was handed over to Sandvik several months ago. It clearly shows that there is an illegal connection to the sewer, marked in red.
This information was conveyed six months ago in a completely transparent manner to Sandvik management, including to Sweden with comments that this is outrageous.
But there is no reaction, so we are here with you. To bring this information
to the public. OSM: This is how you apply to the Public Council of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation you want to protect the domestic business from not becoming complicit the same environmental crimes that are happening now in Norilsk?
WPB: Right. In this respect, environmental offence may occur at other Sandvik sites as well. This is a system, not a one-off occurrence.
We have been working with Sandvik for two years, carried out small jobs at other sites. And the situation is very alike.
There is a possibility that some negligence will lead to a criminal case, and then you know the consequences
OSM: Of course, the environmental damage will be enormous and everyone who will be involved in this...
WPB: Sure. And if Sandvik is an international company, it has finances and structures that will protect it; then ours or any other small contractor like ours will simply be removed from the market,
and we personally have no way to protect ourselves from this except to turn to the public and to public authorities.
We have no other choice. We've been trying to get through to Sandvik, to its management at all levels, for almost 8 months now
I met with the CEO in Moscow, sent numerous letters and presentations in English to Sweden, directly to their headquarters to the people in charge, but so far there is no result.
OSM: Don't you think that this approach that we see from a respected company be a kind of provocation? I reiterate that we are talking about the Arctic, which has all the international attention, the public attention of international environmental organizations.
Greenpeace and other organizations draw polar bears, shout "Save the Arctic from Russian business," etc. At the same time, by provoking environmental crimes of this kind in the Arctic, they will ultimately say, "We work for a Russian company." Do they work for Nornickel?
WPB: Yes, they are suppliers of Nornickel. Moreover, the building also leases from a subsidiary of Nornickel.
Although the contract stipulates that they are obliged to comply with all the norms of the legislation of the Russian Federation, but this is not done.
There may be any options here. Any volunteer can fly to Norilsk, go 300 meters away, take a sample in this wonderful puddle and say, "Look what's happening, that's the water within the urban area."
It's the actual situation. No one is going to figure out that this discharge is coming specifically from this facility, from the Swedish company. That's quite likely.
OSM: Given that there are such toxins, Novichok may seem a toy.
WPB: High-density metals mixed with petroleum products. Shows photo
These parts and spare parts are removed from mines, the equipment is disassembled, cleaned, washed, and all toxic waste is discharged into the insulated pipe.
OSM: Our intelligence services now actively work to defend our national interests. Aren't the foreign intelligence agencies behind these gentlemen, who can provoke any disaster or shake public opinion for their benefit?
WPB: This is a backbone international enterprise. Like Gazprom for Russia, Sandvik is one of the top 10 companies in Sweden.
This backbone enterprise, which, as I understand it, has absolutely every support from the government in Sweden. The founders of this company are the Swedish Pension Fund and several other large Swedish funds...
OSM: The Swedish economy, which is actively backed by the same foreign intelligence agencies, is simply destroying the Russian Arctic here (shows the photo).
And when we talk about sanctions against our country, the question arises, why there are no sanctions on this Swedish company that is simply destroying the Russian Arctic?
Sandvik are foreign partners who pretend to repair equipment and maintain equipment, but as a result, we have a potentially dangerous situation in the city center of Norilsk, which is fraught with disaster, as the Swedish company, the Swedish government, the Scandinavian intelligence agencies know.
At any moment they can take people to barricades with the question of what is destroying their habitat. What do you call it? Provocation?
Foreign intelligence actions? I consider that we on behalf of the Public Council, and I hope colleagues will support me, simply have to turn to our services that protect the interests of our state,
including the intelligence services, so that they figure who is involved in such anti-environmental action, why they refuse to build sewage treatment plants, and why they pursue such weird, anti-environmental policy. Do you understand the full extent of your responsibility in taking this problem to an international level?
We will appeal to all countries that participate in public and international monitoring of the environmental situation, including in the Arctic, to understand the situation.
WPB: We consider this is the right thing to do because there is no other way to reach out. This situation seems very strange to me. The company really earns a lot of money here in Russia.
There's a kind of discordance. I don't understand why this is happening. You may be right about the potential provocations, aren't you? It can be easily performed.
OSM: Then I thank you for this comprehensive information. It is good that in due time you have highlighted this to the public and particularly to the Public Council of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation. Thank you for the diligence.