UN may strike Baikal off World Heritage list

via BBC News – UN may strike Baikal off World Heritage list.

The UN may remove the world’s deepest and oldest lake from the World Heritage list because of concerns over pollution by a Russian pulp and paper mill.

The oldest and deepest lake in the world is threatened by an old Soviet era paper mill that discharges its wastewater into the lake, which holds 1/5th of the world’s fresh water.  The waste includes dioxins, known to cause birth defects and cancer.

The mill is the only major employer in the town, so its continued existence is both a blessing and a curse.  Without it, the town will die; with it, the lake will.  The townspeople hope to develop a tourism industry, but because of the location in Siberia, very few people come to visit.

“There is no real infrastructure, no entertainment to go to after skiing. Maybe one or two foreigners show up to look at Lake Baikal and our mountains, but it’s very hard to develop full-scale tourism here,”

For now, the fishermen move farther away from the mill, where there are few fish, and the town of 16,000 continues to depend on the jobs at the plant.

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