Recent reports from the Kamchatka Peninsula, in Russia’s far east, suggest that a toxic spill of some kind has led to mass death on the ocean floor. It is estimated that 95% of all benthos, or bottom-dwelling organisms, have died. Local government officials denied initial reports of an unfolding environmental disaster after a group of surfers sounded the alarm.
A group of about 20 surfers experienced food poisoning-like symptoms and severe retina burns after swimming in the water in early September. Soon after, a local Youtuber took drone footage of the area which revealed greyish-yellow water with a thick milky foam on the surface. Soon after the footage was taken dead sea life began to wash ashore. Besides a few lucky shrimp and other crustaceans, it is estimated by divers that at least 95% of life has died on the ocean floor.
Toxins Point to Waste Dump
So far, it is still unclear what has caused the toxic waters. After intense pressure from local activists, Russian authorities have launched a criminal probe to investigate possible illegal discharges. The Nalycheva river winds by a toxic waste dump before discharging into the ocean. Many believe that this could be the source of the pollution. While it is still unclear, Greenpeace has been on the scene to take water and soil samples to determine exactly what the pollutants are.
Initial samples are beginning to paint a better picture. Current reports show the presence of petroleum to be 3.6 times greater than normal. In addition, the presence of phenol is 2.5 times greater than normal. Suspected to also be from the toxic waste dump, phenol is an antiseptic and disinfectant. The Kozelsky toxic waste dump stores over 100 tons of toxic substances. It has likely been breached even though local authorities are still denying any failures.