According to the Defense Ministry, Department of the Chief of Ecological Safety, formed in 1997, deals with the ecological safety of domestic Armed Forces. The Department is one of the most “scientific” departments of the central Defense Ministry staff. More than 15% of its specialists are candidates of science. One of the main directions of their work is organization and coordination of the environment protection activity of the Armed Forces.
Special sub-units (up to divisions) are formed in the troops to solve the ecological problems. In this sphere they work in the following directions:
1. Detection and control over the sources of pollution;
2. Prevention of pollution and protection of the personnel;
3. Liquidation of pollution.
In all these directions the Defense Ministry plans and takes certain measures, including: development of the necessary legislative basis, development of new methods and technologies, as well as designing and manufacture of technical devices for ecological safety provision. The current efforts of the military ecologists are targeted at the measures, dealing primarily not with discarding, but with prevention of pollution.
We need to add that development of the ecological safety units has just been started in Russia. According to the Defense Ministry’s specialists, the situation in this sphere is not very favorable in the Armed Forces and Atomic Energy Ministry structures. However no common system of ecological safety was organized in the country yet.
What is the reason of the unsatisfactory condition of the ecological safety provision in the country?
According to the military ecologists, more than ten different agencies deal with the issues, associated with the ecological safety and environment protection. In accordance with the current legislation, to the specially authorized state agencies for environment protection belong: Natural Resources Ministry; State Land Committee; State Environment Protection Committee; Federal Service of Geodesy and Cartography; Federal Service of Hydro Meteorology and Environment Monitoring; Federal Forestry Service and some other ministries and agencies and their territorial bodies, which fulfill the tasks in the sphere of environment protection in accordance with the legislation.
Unfortunately, in reality the main task of majority of these agencies is not environment protection, but taking of fines from the environment protection subjects for their own financing. At this point we need to mention the role of the regional bodies of the State Ecological Committee. Their main task is confined only to control over imposition of penalties. The more fines are paid, the better the work of a regional body is considered to be.
It turns out that the State Ecological Committee is not interested in improvement of the ecological situation in the regions. Such approach is absolutely unacceptable for the state organizations, in particular, for the Defense Ministry. While the other agencies and production enterprises have a certain income as a result of their activity and can take and finance the environment protection measures, the Armed Forces can take these measures only proceeding from the budget assignments. However this is not a secret for anyone that the Armed Forces currently have enough money only for servicemen’s money allowances payment.
Definition of the payment for the natural resources use, which grows 25 times in case of the so-called ecological certificate absence, is also not very simple. For example, if a tank regiment does not have such certificate, the payment for natural resources use will be around 2 million rubles a year. Along with this not more than 20% of the Armed Forces already have such certificates. If we act according to the usual scheme, about 100,000 rubles are to be paid for a certificate of every tank regiment. Acquisition of ecological certificates for the Moscow Military District alone would have cost more than 30 million rubles.
Meanwhile, the ecological service of the Armed Forces is still developing. A range of technical devices is currently being designed for detection and estimation of pollution. All newly designed devices for pollution detection and evaluation are united within the framework of the automated informational controlling system for ecological safety provision (AIUS OEB) of the Armed Forces, being formed on the basis of the already existing automated troops control system.
In addition, the AIUS OEB is to use the existing devices for the airspace ecological monitoring. The Ecological Center of the Defense Ministry already carries out the experimental receiving of information about the environment condition from the spacecraft and its processing to receive evaluation of the ecological situation in the places of military objects deployment. The military ecologists are ready to provide the received information to all regional environment protection bodies. We also need to mention that the ecological certification of the armament and combat equipment models is currently undergoing the research and development stage. In particular, the “General technical norm of the system of general technical requirements towards the armament and combat equipment with regard to the ecological safety” has already been developed. In the sphere of technical devices designing effective implementation of the environmentally friendly technologies in the troops is being studied.
Until recently participation in some international cooperation programs has been an important direction of the Department’s activity. Cooperation with the foreign countries and their armed forces was the most successful within the framework of the program of cooperation in environment protection in the Arctic Region (AMEC).
In December 1996 Directorate of AMEC program approved the following projects:
1. “Definition of advanced technologies for the use in temporary storage facility for the solid radioactive wastes”;
2. “Methods for liquidation of consequences (re-mediation) of materials discharge at the military objects in the Arctic Region”;
3. “Development and manufacture of a prototype of a transportable container for temporary storage of defective and non-defective exhausted nuclear fuel”;
4. “Designing and manufacture of the system for recycling of solid radioactive wastes, received from the submarines discarding”;
5. “Designing and construction of a ship for discharge and recycling of naval wastes”.
However due to the aggression, unleashed by the NATO countries against sovereign Yugoslavia, all contacts with the armed forces of these countries, in particular in the ecological sphere, were suspended.
Meanwhile, according to the Defense Ministry, situation with ecological safety provision at many military objects is not very simple. At any rate, if we look at the real statistics, the Armed Forces account not more than for 9.5% of all pollution in the country, but the total sum of the penalties, imposed by the environment protection agencies on the Armed Forces, accounts for more than 40% of the fines, imposed on all other economic subjects. Thus, in 1995 this sum (in the prices of 1998) was 102.9 million rubles, in 1996 – 102.8 million rubles. Majority of the penalties were imposed on the Air Force and Navy. In 1997 the ecological service, formed in the Armed Forces, managed to lower the sum of the fines, imposed upon the Defense Ministry, to 40.6 million rubles, and in 1998 – to 12.3 million rubles.
One of the problems of the Armed Forces is condition of the environment protection installations. This is caused by the fact that up to 20% of water is discharged at the military objects without any purification. There are usually no purifying installations in the military units, or they need adjustment or capital repair. In 1997 the troops received only 34.2% of the assignments for the building and reconstruction of the environment protection installations, and in 1998 – only about 6% of the assignments. Most often some commanders and officials consider these sums to be almost their reserve, forgetting that the sums of the penalties are much bigger than the sums, spent on environment protection installations construction. Another problem, which needs a complex solution, is transfer of the released military installations to the state (municipal) property of the local government bodies. At present about 300 military installations are at different stages of readiness to the transfer. Where the troops completely leave the installations, they are looted in a barbaric manner. Thus, for example, as a result of unsanctioned removal of valves at the fuel and lubricants depot of the Valday garrison fuel oil was discharged into one of the lakes of the Valday National Park. We need to add that transfer of the military objects territories to the other owners without the measures for restoration of their ecological status results in a significant lowering of the military infrastructure value, and sometimes leads to complete devaluation of an object.
There are large areas, polluted with oil products at the places of the troops deployment, at the ammunition depots and fuel and lubricants depots. Thus, at the beginning of 1998 the areas, polluted with oil products amounted to about 664 hectares. The situation in this sphere is the worst at the Air Force airdromes (Savvatia, Engels, Berezovka, Yeysk, Kamensk-Uralsky) and in the united Siberian Military District, Far Eastern Military District and Ural Military District. Water pollution is not becoming smaller at the naval bases too. The maximum permitted concentration of oil products in sea water is currently exceeded near Vladivostok by 8 times, near Baltiysk by 12 times, near Fokino by 4 times and near Sevastopol by 16 times.
Overall, around 56 hectares or 0.4% of the 14.3 million hectares of land, used by the Armed Forces, are polluted and subject to re-cultivation. The cost of polluted land restoration is very high. Thus, to liquidate only a kerosene “lens” (areas covered with kerosene), occupying 47 hectares, around 150 million rubles are necessary. To purify only the known areas, polluted with oil products, about 3 billion rubles are needed.
This problem can be solved only through the ex-budget financing. The Department has already developed such mechanism. Difficulty of its implementation is connected with the fact that at majority of such objects the oil products collection is unprofitable. That is why a firm is chosen at a tender, which receives 1-2 low-profitable objects in addition to one profitable. The airdromes in Engels, Chkalovsky, Kubinka, Kotlas and Pskov are being purified under such conditions.
However very often the environment protection activities are much better organized at the Air Force airdromes, than at the comparable civil airdromes. At any rate, majority of the claims is presented to the Air Force, because, although commercial aviation often pollutes bigger territories, settles the disputes with the environment protection agencies using the sums, received as income from its commercial activity.
The Armed Forces also have serious ecological problems, connected with the nuclear submarines discarding. By the end of 1998 about 150 submarines have been discarded, and active zones of their reactors were unloaded only from a few of them. The active zones, remaining at the submarines, demand maintenance of around 40-people crews at every submarine and spending of 6 million rubles (in prices of 1998) on one submarine a year.
This is caused by the fact that, having signed good treaties and started the large-scale reduction of nuclear submarines, someone forgot to assign the sums for construction of the necessary infrastructure objects, due to which the coastal technical bases fail to meet the Navy requirements, regarding the nuclear submarines discarding. Due to the underfinancing of the nuclear submarines discarding program, its main objectives were not achieved.
The ecological situation also remains difficult in the areas of falling of the jettisoned parts of delivery vehicles. Due to the underfinancing (the annual need of Strategic Missile Forces is about 3.5 million rubles) inspection and certification of the areas of jettisoned parts falling was not completed, which results in cancellation of the preplanned launches.
However, even in this situation condition of the Russian missiles bases is much better than condition of the American ones, because at the stage of missiles designing domestic designers took into account very strict requirements, regarding the ecological safety of the newly designed models.