Toxic gases emitted by a polluting waste dump not far from Moscow resulted in the medical care of about fifty children, provoking anger of a rare virulence of the inhabitants against Russian authorities considered indifferent towards the ecological situation
"Do not kill our children!" or "I want to breathe! I want to live!" could be read on the placards of some 200 people gathered Wednesday afternoon in front of the Volokolamsk hospital, about 100 kilometers northwest of the Russian capital.
For weeks residents have been denouncing the inconvenience associated with the nearby Iadrovo landfill, which was put into production in 1979. Their protests led the authorities to promise to cover it with soil by the end of the month and install a degassing system in June.
But the situation worsened on Wednesday with the appearance of a foul odor, the air becoming difficult to breathe, especially around the landfill as found by an AFP journalist.
In total, 57 children sought medical assistance mainly because of vertigo, and five of them were hospitalized, according to a statement from the regional administration.
"We wake up every night because of this smell. And what are we going to do in the summer? How can we live like this? ", Told AFP Anna Louzova, 10-year-old schoolgirl.
The mayor of the city, Piotr Lazarev, He immediately blamed the Iadrovo discharge, located three kilometers from Volokolamsk, already in the sights of local residents. The latter have been demonstrating regularly in recent weeks, giving place in the countryside for the presidential election to scenes that have become rare in Russia in recent years, as any protest is met with firmness.
"The situation gets worse and worse each day that (…), particularly because of landfill gas discharges, "Lazarev said in an interview with Business FM radio. "These smells have a detrimental effect on the inhabitants of Volokolamsk, and many children have had to be treated today (…), because there was this strong smell."
– 'Assassin' –
Reassuring, the local authorities identified a toxic gas leak in Iadrovo but assured that the situation was under control
In its daily report on the state of the air in the Moscow region, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations designated the Iadrovo Discharge as "Source of Air Pollution" in Volokolamsk and Surroundings.
However, after analyzing the air quality on Wednesday, "no concentration of polluting substances in the air above the norms has been found (…) No threat to the inhabitants of the city has been detected, "said the ministry.
But the inhabitants of Volokolamsk, who were numerous Wednesday to complain about social networks of stench on the streets s of the city, lost patience
Volokolamsk residents holding placards demanding "Do not kill our children!" are gathered in front of the local hospital. (AFP – Maxime POPOV)
In the afternoon, nearly 200 people were gathered near the Volokolamsk Central Hospital.
"It's been two months since the air here is unbreathable. nausea and hypertension, "told local AFP a local resident, Anna Grape, 50.
Greeted with cries of" shame! " and "Assassin!", the governor of the Moscow region, Andrei Vorobiov, has promised to accelerate the closure of the landfill.
Faced with the growing number of complaints from disgruntled Russians throughout the country in recent months, the authorities recognized that the air quality measurement system was failing. Due to lack of funding, this system is simply absent or obsolete due to lack of modernization since the fall of the USSR.