A suspected toxic spill in Russia’s Far East has killed 95% of marine life on seabed
A suspected toxic spill along a beach on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula has killed 95% of marine life on the surrounding seabed, local scientists have said, following a weeks-long campaign to investigate the mysterious incident.
Local surfers were the first to spot that something was wrong at Khalaktyr beach after about 20 people in a surf camp experienced severe retina burns and symptoms similar to food poisoning.
In early September, the water changed color to a greyish-yellow, with a thick milky foam on the surface, and a strong foul smell filled the air. A few days later, octopuses, seals and other sea creatures began to wash up on the beach.
The local authorities at first dismissed the reports. But amid mounting pressure, Russia’s Investigative Committee Wednesday launched a criminal probe into suspected violations in the use of environmentally hazardous substances and waste and marine pollution.
In a meeting with Kamchatka Governor Vladimir Solodov, local scientists reported that the majority of marine life on the seabed was dead.
“On the shore, we did not find any large dead sea animals or birds,” scientist Ivan Usatov said according to a report posted on the governor’s official website. “However, when diving, we found that there is a mass death of benthos [bottom-dwelling organisms] at depths from 10 to 15 meters — 95% are dead. Some large fish, shrimps and crabs have survived, but in very small numbers.”