Plan of Destruction of Evenkia
: 08/10/2007
: Indigenous Issues

/Dmitry Verkhoturov/
On 23-26 August 2007 Head of Russian joint-stock company Unified Energy System Anatoly Chubais visited Krasnoyarsky Kray to discuss the project of construction of Turukhansk (Evenkia) Hydroelectric Power Station on the Nizhnaya Tunguska River, the right tributary of the Yenisey River, and to visit the place of construction.

Together with the Deputy Governor of Krasnoyarsky Kray Anatoly Tikhonov, Chairman of Administration of HydroOGK Vyacheslav Sinyugin and the head of the project of Evenkia Hydroelectric Power Station Vadim Bardukov, Anatoly Chubais examined the range of the Nizhnaya Tunguska River, where the construction of the dam is planned.
This project was worked out by Leningrad Institute Lenhydroproject in 1970-s. The idea of the project is rather simple: as there are no large power consumers in Turukhansk area, all the power output of this big hydroelectric power station is to be transferred to the European part of Russia. For the transmission it was proposed to construct two power transmission lines 3000 km length. In 1987 preparatory works began in the alignment of the river, which were stopped due to the protests of ecologists and violent political events.
The project was reverted to again in 2005 by Unified Energy System and HydroOGK, and funding of project-development works was included in the investment program of HydroOGK for 2007. First exploration works on the place of construction started this August.
The Institute has developed several variants of Turukhansk Hydroelectric Power Station: with output from 6300 to 14000 megawatt, with possibility to increase it up to 20,000 megawatt, with concrete and rock embankment. Heads of HydroOGK selected the variant of hydroelectric power station with 8000 megawatt output and included it into the General Scheme of Placement of Hydroelectric Power Objects till 2020 year.
These characteristics of the project overshadowed all considerations, and HydroOGK started to push this project through all the agencies. Big support to the construction of Turukhansk Hydroelectric Power Station is also made by the governor of Krasnoyarsky Kray Alexander Khloponin, who favors this kind of economic giantism.
But the first news about the beginning of work for Turukhansk Hydroelectric Power Station construction aroused negative reaction in press. This project has many environmental flaws.
In 1971-1974 while preparing for mining of two oilfields in Evenkia, a run of underground nuclear explosions was made. Some underground nuclear explosions in salt layers were made in 1973-1976 in the area of Yermakovo village in Turukhansk Region, which formed three underground chambers filled with radioactive brine in flood-lands of the Nizhnaya Tunguska river.
The reservoir can unlock these underground chambers, because under the Tunguska bed there are deposits of permafrost salt layers. If the reservoir is constructed, the water will gradually destroy the permafrost, then the salt layers, open the cavities with concentrated brine. The reservoir of Turukhansk Hydroelectric Power Station will get more and more salted. When the boarder of flood reaches the chambers of underground nuclear explosions, radioactive brine will get into the water of the reservoir. It should be added that the permafrost in the area of the future hydroelectric power station is studied very little, and there is a probability that it can melt and lead to a catastrophic water discharge.
Besides, the reservoir will submerge 806.3 thousand hectares of forest with 53 millions cubic meters wood yield. Undoubtedly, all the forest wont be cut down in the flood area, and large volume of rotting wood will fill the water. In combination with radioactive brine coming up from the bottom, the rotting wood will quickly make clean water of the Nizhnaya Tunguska poisoned and dangerous for life.
But the main thing is that the power station is removing the whole economic region of Russia. The reservoir will flood 8.7 thousand sq. km of Evenkia territory, flood the capital of the Autonomous Okrug Tura town, flood coalfields in Noginskoye and Korablik (currently exploited) with 6 milliards tones yield. Noginskoye graphit deposit currently exploited, Iceland spar fields as well as all those deposits of minerals, which havent been explored yet due to the difficulty of access of the region, will be submerged.
The Nizhnaya Tunguska is a natural waterway by which the cargo for Evenkia is brought. The navigational route along the river starts at the confluence with the Yenisey and runs 1155 km inside the Middle Siberia Plateau. By the river goods, fuel, products for winter period are brought. The project of Turukhansk Hydroelectric Power Station doesnt provide any sluice or ship elevator for passing the ships up the river from the dam. In other words, after construction of Turukhansk Power Station the cargo communication with almost all the territory of Evenkia will be broken, and northern deliveries will be impossible. Tura located 867 km up the Nizhnaya Tunguska will lose its connection with the outer world.
It means that this project dooms the population of Evenkia to living in the conditions of a very severe climate with the frosts reaching -63º without coal, diesel oil, food and communication with other regions. Even if Tura will be moved and built on a new place, there will be no practical possibility to support living of a town with population 5.5 thousand people. Hydroelectric engineers have designed the power station so that the fuel will be impossible to deliver, and the own coalfields will get under water.
It concerns all the villages from the dam of the power station up to the Nizhnaya Tunguska. Their provision will be stopped. It is certain that the power station planners havent examined the real economic situation in the area of construction.
They can say that Evenks are reindeer-breeders, so they can live off reindeer-breeding. This argument is good, but it doesnt work either. The water will flood spring and summer pastures for deer located in the flood-lands, and inevitable moistening of the climate will cause spreading of diseases. This will lead to a drastic reduction and in some regions to death of full herds of wild and domestic deer. At the same time elk population eating on the same pastures will die. 70% of meat consumption is provided by venison. If the hydroelectric power station is constructed, the deer will die and meat will be impossible to deliver. Evenks will have either to escape from their motherland or to die of hunger. Russia has already had the experience of construction of such objects. After building of Kolyma Hydroelectric Power Station, local population lost their deer and had to leave their old nomad camps. In Evenkia disasters caused by hydroelectric power station will cover a huge territory not only along the Tunguska river, but also along its tributaries.
Cheap electric power will be bought at the cost of ethnocide of Evenk indigenous people, destruction of the whole economic region and creation of the territory of social disaster.