Scientists say pipeline explosions stirred up chemical waste and threaten cod and porpoise populations
The destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines not only interrupted the flow of Russian natural gas to Western Europe, it killed and poisoned already endangered fish and marine mammal species in the Baltic Sea, says a new report by Danish, Polish and German scientists.
Two pipes of Nord Stream 1 and one pipe of Nord Stream 2 were blown up in late September 2022, in what Moscow has called an act of international terrorism. The “four explosions” stirred up the surrounding seabed, including the area previously used to dump toxic waste, according to a study by Aarhus University in Denmark.
“This could mean that fish that have been exposed to substances [such as lead and TBT] will get sick. There are some of them that will die, and there are some of them that will have difficulty reproducing, says Hans Sanderson from the Department of Environmental Science in Aarhus. Copenhagen Post on Monday.
The researchers estimated that a quarter of a million tons of contaminated seabed, an area “twice the size” of the island of Bornholm, may have been disturbed by the explosions. This has threatened stocks of cod and porpoise in the Baltic Sea, which have breeding grounds nearby.
Explosions may have deafened all porpoises within 50 kilometers of the explosions, while those within 4 kilometers “were likely killed,” the researchers said.
“It was really in the worst imaginable place. It is a tragedy that this has happened right here, where nature is already completely on its knees,” says Bo Oksnebjerg from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to Posten. He called on the Danish and Swedish governments to produce a “sea plan” to protect the Baltic Sea from future incidents.
Denmark’s Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke promised that the government would “continuously monitor and share the information with our neighboring countries around the Baltic Sea, so that we have an overall picture of the consequences and can follow up to the relevant extent.”
Denmark, Sweden and Germany have refused to release any information about their investigations into the Nord Stream sabotage, despite repeated requests from Russia. Last week Moscow asked the UN to launch an investigation into the international terrorist act.
Earlier this month, American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published a article accuses the US and Norway of blowing up the pipelines. While the US government dismissed his claims as “completely false”, President Joe Biden had threatened Nord Stream 2 last January and several State Department officials spoke approvingly of its destruction.