Signs of eutrophication in the Gulf of Finland. Photo: Matti Snellman

NEFCO and the municipality of Kingisepp in Northwest Russia, have, today, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to finance the modernisation of the latter’s water distribution and wastewater treatment facilities.

Located in the Leningrad region of Russia, the city of Kingisepp has some 50,000 inhabitants. Kingisepp hit the news headlines in Finland, Sweden and Russia earlier this year when the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, HELCOM, reported that alarming levels of phosphorus were detected in the Luga River close to Kingisepp.

HELCOM and the Finnish Environment Institute estimate that the annual phosphorus discharge from Kingisepp could be in excess of 1,000 tonnes, a figure corresponding to one third of Finland’s annual phosphorus discharges into the Baltic Sea.

Although EuroChem’s fertiliser factory was initially identified as the main culprit, recent findings indicate that earlier mining and fertiliser production operations are responsible for the high levels of phosphorus discharges into the Baltic Sea. In February, NEFCO participated in a fact finding mission to Kingisepp, which also included talks with representatives from EuroChem.

“A feasibility study to determine the technical requirements of the project, and how it should be financed needs to be conducted before the start of operations. After that we can also assess how the project will benefit the state of the Baltic Sea”, says NEFCO’s Vice President Kari Homanen.

According to NEFCO’s Senior Manager, Karl-Johan Lehtinen, measurement of phosphorus levels in the Luga River and the surrounding area will be carried out this spring to find tangible solutions to the challenges at hand. “NEFCO is prepared to offer environmental expertise and loan financing to reduce the phosphorus load from Kingisepp to the Baltic Sea”, says Karl-Johan Lehtinen.

A considerable amount of NEFCO’s investments in the Baltic Basin relate to projects, which benefit the ecological state of the Baltic Sea, and the company’s environmental status reports for 2011 indicate that these initiatives resulted in reducing phosphorus discharges by 1,126 tonnes during the reporting period. The corresponding figure for nitrogen was 5,732 tonnes, a figure equivalent to untreated wastewater discharges by about 1.7 million people.

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