Irkut governor Sergey Levchenko imagined himself as Ilon Mask

For 6 billion rubles, the official offered Moscow a "breakthrough technology" for recycling waste from the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill. Know-how consists in drying and transportation from one garbage to another lignin.
Irkutsk unexpectedly becomes a platform for status federal "summits" with a forceful bias. In Siberia there was a board of the Prosecutor General's Office, and in the autumn a Security Council meeting will be held here. Should local elites and, especially, the governor rejoice in such attention - or worry? This, of course, depends on the agenda. The Irkutsk region is located far from sources of obvious security threats, such as terrorism or war zones. However, this is an opportunity to look at less obvious but no less significant problems, for example, environmental ones. Moreover, the permanent representative of the Security Council includes Sergei Ivanov, the president's special envoy for environmental issues, and Vladimir Putin himself has repeatedly stressed the special importance of Lake Baikal for him personally, for the country and for humanity.

Governor Sergei Levchenko, of course, knows this very well and even tries to use an environmental map as a bargaining chip. For example, three years ago he promised to solve the problem of waste of the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM). What has been done during this time? Governor Levchenko has excelled in consolidating administrative and financial resources to solve the problem in his hands. But only in the fact that he effectively disposes of them, they believe less and less. And that's why.

The industrial site of the BPPM needs to be reclaimed, that is, cleaned of ash, slag and lignin. Lignin is the waste of the pulp and paper industry, which physically resemble the mud, only silt is highly toxic.


Plant tissue consists mainly of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Lignin is a polymer contained in a natural form inside the plant, which provides mechanical strength and tightness of the cell walls.

Hardwoods contain up to 25%, but in conifers - up to 38% lignin. Therefore, the problem of processing or storage of lignin-containing waste from woodworking industries is particularly relevant for the Siberian regions. The result of such processing is already other lignins, or rather lignin-containing substances.

Of course, some of this waste is being recycled. But since the technological process of their processing is rather complicated and energy-intensive, its economic feasibility is called into question. For example, the process of decomposition of lignin into simple compounds such as benzene or phenol is several times more expensive than the production of these products from oil and gas. According to the available statistics, only 2% of the "technical" lignins are recycled, and the rest - are burned in specialized installations or are stored.

Like any waste, lignin can either be recycled or disposed of, that is, bury. But on the way to the final burial, he, in theory, can be subjected to various types of processing, for example, burning or removing excess moisture, that is, more simply, drying. It's in a beautiful theory. In fact, burning lignin is much more dangerous than conventional lignite, and there are no reliable drying technologies in the world yet.

This "Novaya Gazeta" was told by Roman Nezovibatko, a member of the expert council of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. "Undoubtedly, some of these wastes are being recycled, obtaining various bases for making resins and binders, plasticizers and modifiers, reagents and fillers," the expert explains. - But, since the technological process of their processing is rather complicated and energy-intensive, its economic feasibility is called into question. For example, the process of decomposition of lignin into simple compounds such as benzene or phenol is several times more expensive than the production of these products from oil and gas. And there is no complete trust in the existing technologies. Basically, these are environmentally hazardous experimental production, whose effectiveness, alas, has not been proven. "

However, Sergey Levchenko has his own view of the problem. Having achieved the transfer of authority for the implementation of the project to rehabilitate the BPPM industrial site from the federal level to the oblast level, and asking for 6 billion rubles, the governor, feeling a bit like Ilon Mask, proposed a breakthrough technology. Lignin cards are dried, the toxic sludge is dried in place, shrinking by weight and volume, and then taken away from Baikal to perpetual burial.

All this, of course, looks beautiful, but only technology that allows to realize such an idea, no. Well, Levchenko promised to develop it and even knocked out 300 million rubles from the Ministry of Natural Resources for the development of "technology of rejuvenation", mastered by state-owned Rosgeology. Last week, the governor seemed to be in the course of a visit to the BPPM to accept the results of innovative work. According to eyewitnesses, all this looked like experiments at a chemistry lesson in a secondary school: a turbid liquid (lignin water) was poured from one transparent vessel to another, reporting that it was filtered and flocculated. In this case, even the question of Levchenko himself, how clean the liquid becomes after these procedures, there was no response.

But Levchenko once again stated that the lingen from the industrial site will be "dried and exported." Is it rational?

"At first glance, warehousing does not seem to be a problem. But in the course of the physicochemical effect on lignin, its biochemical reactivity multiply increases, including due to the absorption of other harmful substances. Such lignins are highly flammable, well-burned and highly toxic, "Novazar Nezabivatko warns. - An example is the lignin storage of the Ziminsky hydrolysis plant, which burned and smoked for many years, releasing CO, SO2, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, etc. I think, it is not necessary to explain how dangerous these substances are for high concentrations in the animal world and in humans. "

By the way, this catastrophe happened not so long ago, in 2005, and also on the territory of Irkutsk region, so Governor Levchenko can not, as they say, "not be aware of."

However, even if the project to rehabilitate the industrial site of the BPPM by the method of "drying and exporting" does not lead to such excesses, there remain a lot of questions to it. The main one, perhaps, is where to take out 1.5 million tons of hazardous waste?

It is known that not so long ago attempts were made to transfer large areas from agricultural land to industrial lands near the village of Moty in the Shelekhov district. This is known to the inhabitants of Moth, who have already begun active protests. Because they know: they do not have any industry and are not planned, but they do not really want to be a toxic cemetery. Not for nothing during a visit to the BPPM, Levchenko said: "If a negative conclusion came from the municipality, then, naturally, no one will be forced to force. Therefore, we will offer other options, excluding Mota village. " But, wherever a place for burial is chosen, taking into account the imperfection of technology and huge volumes of accumulated waste, instead of one grandiose environmental problem, the region will receive two. For public money. And only because the level of ambitions of a particular governor is much greater than the scope of his competences.

From this point of view, the holding of the Security Council in Irkutsk seems a very timely initiative. It is unlikely that Baikal will not be on its agenda. So, the adventurous reclamation project will be once again studied at the federal level. Considering the world, cosmic significance of the "glorious sea", the issues of its preservation should be solved at the level of the state, and not of one region. And the governor Levchenko should focus on the problems of the region, which, even without "innovative" mega-projects in Irkutsk, has accumulated enough.