Review of the System of Environmental Monitoring in the Russian Federation and Former Soviet Union and Related Environmental Policy Issues

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A thesis submitted to the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy of the Central European University in part fulfilment of the Degree of Master of Science (MSc Environmental Sciences and Policy)

Review of the System of Environmental Monitoring in the Russian Federation and Former Soviet Union and Related Environmental Policy Issues

Vladislav I. Larin

September 1997


Author’s Declaration

No portion of the work referred to in this thesis has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification at this or any other university or institute of learning.

Vladislav Larin

Notes on copyright and the ownership intellectual property rights

Copyright in text of this thesis rests with the Author. Copies (by any process) either in full, or of extracts, may be made only in accordance with instructions given by the Author and lodged in Central European University Library. Details may be obtained from the Librarian. This page must form part of any such copies made. Further copies (by any process) of copies made in accordance with such instructions may not be made without the permission (in writhing) of the Author.

The ownership of any intellectual property rights which may be described in this thesis is vested in the Central European University, subject to any prior agreement to the contrary, and may not be made available for use by thirds parties without the written permission of the University, which will prescribe the terms and conditions of any such agreement.

For bibliographic and references purposes this dissertation should be referred to as:

Larin, V.I. 1998. A Review of the System of Environmental Monitoring in the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Union and Related Environmental Policy Issues. Master of Science thesis, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University, Budapest.

Address of Central European University

CEU, Environmental Sciences and Policy

Nador ut. 9, 1051-H, Budapest, Hungary

Address of Author

123060, Russia, Moscow, St. Marshala Biruzova, 40—37


Further information on the conditions under which disclosures and exploitation may take place is available from the Head of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University.


First of all I am very grateful to my sons for their understanding during the period of my working on this dissertation.

Moreover, I would like to thank the following persons and institutions without whose kind help the work on this dissertation could not be successful:

Dr. R.Mnatsakanian, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy (Central European University), for consultations and providing helpful references.

Staff of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy (Central European University) for support all my activities during preparation this dissertation and Dr. E.Bellinger, Head of Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy for his general guidance.

Experts of different official and non-official organisations for their time and kind readiness for consultations:

Dr. Yablokov A.V., Chairman of Interagency Commission on Ecological Security of National Security Council of Russian Federation, Associated Member of Russian’s Sciences Academy;

Dr. Buyvolov Y.V., chemist of Laboratory of Environmental Monitoring and Climate of RosGidromet;

Dr. Dumnov A.D., Head of Department of the Environmental Statistics of the GosKomStat of Russian Federation;

Dr. Genichovich E.L., Head of Laboratory of Main Voeykov Geophysical Observatory;

Dr. Komarov A.V., Head of Main Department of Management of Scientific-Technical Supplement of Information of GosComEcologii;

Dr. Laychtman V.I., Director of firm «Integral»;

Dr. Nikolaev V.D., Head of environmental programs NPK"Atmosphere»;

Dr. Tsaturov Y.S., Head of Main Department for Ecological Programmes and Monitoring of Environmental Pollution of Federal Service for the Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of Russian Federation;

Dr. Zabelin S.I., member of Board of Socio-Ecological Union;

Mr Fiodorov A.V., Director of the Center for Co-ordination of Socio-Ecological Union.


CAO — Central Aerologycal Observatory;

CIS — Commonwealth of Independent States (Newly Independent States without Baltic States);

CKI SoES — Center of Co-ordination of Information of Socio-Ecological Union;

CNIImah — Central Research Institute of Machine-Building;

CNIITEneftehim — Central Research Institute of Technical-Economical Research and Information of Oil Processing and Oil-Chemistry Industry;

DOP — guard for environmental protection;

DSP — Information «for official use only» (kind of classified instruction);

EGSEM — Integrated State System for the Environmental Monitoring;

EIA — Environmental impact assessment;

EU — European Union;

FNPR — Federation of National Trade Unions;

GenProkuratura — Main Prosecutor’s Office;

GGI — State Hydrological Institute;

GGO — Main Voeykov Geophysical Observatory;

GHI — Hydrochemical Institute;

GidrometCenter — Hydrometeorological Research Centre;

GMGS — State Service for Monitoring of Geological Systems;

GOIN — State Oceanographic Institute;

GosAtomNadzor — State Atomic Inspection;

GosComEcologii — State Committee of the Russian Federation for Protection of the Environment;

GosComGidromet — former name of RosGidromet;

GosComOboronProm — State Committee of Defence Industry;

GosComSanEpidNadzor — State Committee of Sanitary-Epidemic Inspection;

GosComStat — State Committee of Statistics;

GosGorTechNadzor — State Inspection of Safe Use of Mineral Resources;

GosStandart — State Standartisation Committee;

GRID — UNEP’s Global Resources Information Database;

GSMOS — Global System of Environmental Monitoring;

GSN — State Service of Monitoring of Environmental Pollution;

IEM — Institute of Experimental Meteorology;

IGKE — Institute of Global Climate and Ecology;

IPG — Fiodorov Institute of Applied Geophysics;

MCS — Ministry of Emergency Situations;

MedSocEcoInform — Federal Research Institute of Medicine and Public Health, Research Holding;

MinAtom — Ministry of Nuclear Industry;

MinJust — Ministry of Justice;

MinKul’tury — Ministry of Culture;

MinNauki — Ministry of Science;

MinOborony — Ministry of Defence;

MinObrazovaniya — Ministry of Education;

MinPrirodi — former name of State Committee of the Russian Federation of Protection of the Environment;

MinResursov — Ministry of Natural Resources;

MinSel’Hoz — Ministry of Agriculture;

MinSel’HozProd — Ministry of Agricultural Production;

MinStroy — Ministry of Construction;

MinTopEnergo — Ministry of Fuel and Energy;

MinTrans — Ministry of Transportation;

MinZdrav — Ministry of Health;

MinZdravMedProm — Ministry of Health Services Industry;

MPR — Ministry of Natural Resources;

MPS — Ministry of Rail Roads;

MVD — Ministry of Internal Defence;

NEAP — National Environmental Action Plan;

NEHAP — National Environmental Health Action Plan;

NGO — non-governmental organisation;

NIIAT — Research Institute of Automobile Transport;

NIS — Newly Independent States;

NPGO GGP — Neva’s Geological Holding of State’s Geology Enterprise «NevskGeologiya»;

OECD — Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development;

OGSNK — State Monitoring Service for the Pollution Control and System for the Complex Monitoring of Background Pollution;

PP — public participation;

RAEN — Russian Academy of Natural Science;

RAN — Russian Academy of Science;

RAO — Russian Academy of Education;

RKA — Russian Space Agency;

RosComLes — Committee of Forestry;

RosComMetallurgy — State Committee of Metallurgy;

RosComNedra — State Committee of Resources of the Entrails;

RosComNefteHimProm — State Committee of Oil Processing;

RosComPechati — State Committee of Publishing;

RosComRibolovstva — State Committee of Fisheries;

RosComVod — State Committee of Water Resources;

RosComVUZ — State Committee of High Education;

RosComZem — State Committee of Soil Resources;

RosGidromet — Federal Service for the Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of the Russian Federation;

RosLesProm — State Committee of Forest Industry;

RosRibHoz — former name of Committee of Fishery;

SEMK — System of Environmental Monitoring for the Cosmodromes and Rockets Launches;

SoER — State of Environment Reporting;

SoES — Socio-Ecological Union;

UNEP — United Nations Environment Programme;

USSR — Union of Soviet Socialist Republics;

VNIEMS — Russian Research Institute of Economy of Mineral Resources and Using of Entrails;

VNIILM — Russian Research Institute of Forestry and Mechanisation;

VNIINMASH — Russian Research Institute of Standardisation and Certifying of Machine-Building;

VNIIPRH — Russian Research Institute of Ponds Fish Production;

VNIRO — Russian Research Institute of Seas Fishery and Oceanography;

VOOP — Russian Society of Environmental Protection;

VSEGINGEO — Russian Research Institute of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology;


A Review of the System of Environmental Monitoring in the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Union and Related Environmental Policy Issues

A thesis submitted to the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy of the Central European University in part fulfilment of the Degree of Master of Science’


Vladislav I. Larin


A system of environmental monitoring has existed in the former Soviet republics (Newly Independent States at present) for several decades. As a result of total secrecy over many years, environmental information was inaccessible for independent researchers. Now that information is not secret, it does not mean, however, that has become more accessible That is why there are very few completed research works devoted to this problem.

This dissertation considers the system for collecting environmental information in the former Soviet republics as a whole and by departments involved in the system of environmental monitoring. This research represents part of a broader study including the systematising of environmental information which is partly presented in Appendix 4. Moreover, another aim of this dissertation was an attempt to study ways of implementing results of environmental monitoring into the state of environmental reporting and environmental policy of the Russian Federation.

The institutional and legislative framework for environmental policy in the Russian Federation and ways of using environmental data for decision-making are briefly analysed and ways of improving this practice are discussed. The diversity and acceptability of environmental information and different limitations for its in the governmental and non-governmental organisations are considered. In the conclusion, the following are discussed: the state of system for collection of environmental data; ways of improving the process of adoption of environmental policy; and ways of collaborating between governments and NGOs in this way.


environmental information, environmental data, environmental monitoring, environmental indicators, environmental policy, state of environment, environmental legislation, censorship, former USSR, Russian Federation, GosComStat, RosGidromet, GosComEcologii, State of Environment Reporting, NGO, public participation.


The system for data collection on the state of the environment and on physical, chemical, meteorological and hydrological processes in nature has been created in the USSR back in 1929 (GosComGidromet, Reference book, 1990). It was named State Hydrometeorological Service of the USSR (GosComGidromet for short).

Later (from the mid 70es), when global environmental pollution had increased, and there was universal concern about the state of the environment, all countries began to develop environmental monitoring networks. Similar system was created in the USSR on the basis of the existing grid of hydrometeorological stations of GosComGidromet.

Moreover, plants, factories, transport enterprises and agricultural farms were bound to supply data about amount of emitted pollutants for statistical organisations. There was data collected on felling forests and forest fires, on air, water and soil pollution, on soil erosion, on epidemic and other illnesses possibly linked with the changing state of the environment.

All collected information was kept in departments of different ministries, but a very narrow group of people could only use it because all information on the state and pollution of the environment was confidential. This information was used only by some officials for preparation of classified reports for the Central Committee of CPSU and the Soviet Government on medical and environmental problems. No publisher could publish an article or book with data from issues or reference books which were classified or had a stamp «for official use only» («dlia slugebnogo pol’zovaniya» — in Russian pronunciation).

The necessity of research work devoted to the analysis of the system of collection of environmental information and assessment of the degree of reliability of this data in the republics of the former USSR was clear several years ago — in the period of so called «ecological glasnost’». It was a time, when demand for publications on the state of the environment was great, but reliable information about on it was extremely rare. There were even serious scientists and scientific journalists, who wrote about environmental problems and were enforced to use superficial information, with considerable share of emotions. Censorship did not allow the use of occasionally found reference books of GosComGidromet or GosComStat for open publications. Therefore, serious research books were written only with the help of newspaper’s publications, because newspapers had more freedom than official issues.

At present, almost all materials of State environmental organisations are available for researchers. Political censorship disappeared, but new «democratic» bureaucracy is not willing to open accumulated information. Political censorship was substituted by commercial censorship, preventing independent scientists and investigators to use primary data. In the present dissertation system for collection of environmental data and methods of its implementation into the environmental policy in the former USSR and NIS countries was studied.

The objectives of the present study are as follows:

— To study the sophisticated system of environmental monitoring for the territory of the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation as an example of Newly Independent State;

— To study the degree of reliability of sources of environmental information from different official and non-official organisations;

— To review place the and role of main environmental organisations in the system for collection of environmental information and the place and role of new participants in this process;

— To review the international system of environmental indicators and compare the systems of State of Environmental Reporting in the different NIS countries;

— To study the laws on environmental policy and briefly to review the ways of implementation of environmental information into the process of adoption and realisation of environmental policy.

The following methods of research has been used in this dissertation:

— review of environmental data collection from main governmental organisations involved in the system of environmental monitoring in the former USSR and in the Russian Federation at present;

— review of environmental data collection from non-governmental organisations in the Russian Federation and NIS countries;

— review of scientific articles, reference books, official documents, legislation and other related literature;

— personal communication with experts from governmental and non-governmental organisations (see Acknowledgement for details);

— analysis of the system of implementation of environmental data into the process of environmental policy.

Information and data used in this dissertation were drawn from publications and official documents found at:

— Library of the Moscow Ecopresscenter (Moscow, Russia);

— Library of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University (Budapest, Hungary);

— Collection of issues of Department of Air Pollution of Main Voeykov Geophysical Observatory (St.-Petersburg, Russia);

— Collection of issues of Department of Environmental Data State’s Committee for Statistics of the Russian Federation and Department of Environmental Data Committee for Statistics of the NIS countries (Moscow, Russia);

— Collection of issues of Department of Air Pollution of Federal Service of Russia for the Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Moscow, Russia).

Very important from the point of view of reliability of environmental data of the GosComGidromet were the personal communications during the scientific-methodological conference organised by the Main Voeykov Geophysical Observatory (division of RosGidromet) and the Research Institute of Preservation of Atmospheric Air (Main Department of GosComEcologii for methodical support of air pollution researches) named «Actual problems of evaluation of air pollution by industry and transport in the cities and regions — calculated and measured data» (St.-Petersburg, Russia, 24—28 June, 1997).


General Information About the System of Environmental Data Collection for the Territory of the former USSR

1.1. Sources of environmental information — problem of definition

First of all, we need to define, what should be considered under the term environmental information. At the present permanent definitions do not exist, in this work under the term environmental information will be considered all data about the state of the environment and public health (from official and non-official sources). Moreover, under the term environmental information will be included data on the influence of changes in the environment on the state of public health and on reaction of animals and plants to pollution. We will take into consideration preferably the data which was collected by the specialised organisations using certified methods, which allow estimation of the degree of their reliability.

Primary source of environmental information includes official issues, published by the specialised official organisations, on the basis of data collected by certified methods. Certainly, any data could be misrepresented by different reasons. For identification and avoiding of errors the evaluation of experts from organisations responsible for data preparation is necessary. Experts should be well-known in their field and well informed about possible ways of misrepresentation of primary data.

Due to the selection of primary sources of environmental information for this work the author used as a guiding principle the comprehension of presented information on the state of environment. Moreover, the study aimed to show the diversity of existing primary sources of environmental information and to give examples of the activities of all more or less known official organisations.

1.2. System for collection of environmental information in the former USSR and in the Russian Federation

1.2.1. Organisations responsible for collection of primary data

In the former USSR, there were several organisations which traditionally collected data on the state of the environment, pollution and public health. They are still existing at the present too, but several of them had changed names and have partly decreased the territory of monitoring after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 (for details see Chapter 2).

The main part of official environmental information is accumulated by the following organisations:

— State Committee of the Russian Federation for Protection of the Environment (GosComEcologii) and its research and methodological departments (see Appendix 3 for details);

— Federal Service for the Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of the Russian Federation (RosGidromet), which has a wider spread network of stations for collecting monitoring data (see Appendix 3 and 4 for details);

— State’s Committee of Statistics (GosComStat), which gets primary data as reports from the plants, factories, transport and agricultural farms (see Appendix 3 for details);

— State’s Committee of Sanitary-Epidemic Inspection (GosComSanEpidNadzor) and Ministry of Health (MinZdrav), which have their own systems for data collection on the state of public health;

— Ministry of Emergency Situations (MCS), which is responsible in liquidating damage after environmental disasters;

— Ministry of Nuclear Industry (MinAtom);

— Ministry of Defence (MinOborony);

— Ministry of Agriculture (MinSel’Hoz) and Department for Protection and Rational Using of Hunter’s Resources;

— Ministry of Fuel and Energy (MinTopEnergo);

— State’s Atomic Inspection (GosAtomNadzor);

— State Committee of Defence Industry (GosComOboronProm);

— Ministry of Natural Resources (MinResursov);

— Committee of Water Resources (RosComVod);

— Committee of Forestry (RosLesHoz);

— State Committee of Resources of the Bowels (RosComNedra);

— Committee of Soil Resources (RosComZem).

1.2.2. State Monitoring Service for Pollution Control and System for Complex Monitoring of Background Pollution (OGSNK)

The State Monitoring Service for Pollution Control and System for Complex Monitoring of Background Pollution was created and worked in the former USSR. It was an interagency system for environmental monitoring. There were several ministries and departments involved: GosComGidromet, Sanitary-Epidemiological Service, Ministries of Geology, Forestry, Fishery, Water, etc. It is supposed that on the basis of OGSNK General State’s System for the Environmental Monitoring will be created in the future (O povishenii effektivnosti…, 1995) (for details see Chapter 1.3., 2.1. and 2.3.).

1.2.3. Co-operation among NIS countries in the monitoring of environmental pollution

Organisations of the Russian Federation, carrying out environmental monitoring and collection of environmental data, continue collaboration with similar bodies in the other republics of the former Soviet Union (CIS at present). Mostly with brunches of the RosGidromet and GosComStat. This collaboration isn’t effective enough and cannot satisfy the needs of researchers using this data (Dumnov, pers.comm.).

Main reasons for this is the poor financial support from the governments and the collapse of past networks used for collection and transfer of environmental information between republics of the former USSR. Besides, now the unwillingness of the governments of several CIS countries to provide information on the bad environmental situation in their countries is visible.

1.3. Problems of the creation of an Integrated State System for Environmental Monitoring (EGSEM)

1.3.1. Background of the problem

The question about the creation of the Integrated State System for the Environmental Monitoring has been discussed for more than 15 years already. According to its proponents it should be a system for collection of reliable and comprehensive information about the state of the environment on whole territory of the Russian Federation. The project of EGSEM should help all environmental organisations to use common standards, methods and unified technical equipment. In December, 1995, this problem was discussed at the regular meeting of the Interagency Commission on Ecological Security of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation. Following in the MinPrirodi of the Russian Federation (GosComEcologii at present) an order was signed concerning the acceleration of works for creation of EGSEM.

In accordance with last trends in the environmental policy of the Russian Federations the establishment of EGSEM does not seem a realistic project for the future several years (for details see Chapter 4.3.2.). The project as a whole could be realised only if sufficient funding is provided by the government.

1.3.2. Steps for creation of the EGSEM

In accordance with opinion of the experts, creation of the Integrated State System for the Environmental Monitoring should contain the following:

— monitoring of sources of anthropogenic pressure on the environment;

— monitoring of pollution of abiotic elements of the environment;

— monitoring of pollution of biotic elements of the environment;

— creation and application of environmental information systems.

All activities for the creation of EGSEM are carried out in accordance with the Decree of the Council of Ministers — Government of the Russian Federation, 24 November, 1993 (O povishenii effektivnosti…, 1995). Many official organisations were involved in this process, including: State Committee of the Russian Federation for Protection of the Environment, Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Fuel and Energy, Committee for Soil Resources, Committee for the Resources of Bowels and several others.

In the different regions of the Russian Federation experimental branches of the EGSEM already exist. There are experimental departments on the territory of the Kurgan, Kaluga, Amur, Chelyabinsk, Perm’ and Orenburg oblasts (provinces); on the territory of the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomy districts; in the republics of Mordovia, Karelia, Chuvashia; in the region of the Caucasus Mineral Waters (Stavropol Kray).

For example, as a result of collaboration between Kaluga’s Regional Committee for Ecology and GosComEcologii in the Kaluga region a second level Regional System of Environmental Monitoring was created. Moreover, the Regional Information and Analysis Center which works as a department of the Regional Committee for Protection of Nature of the Kaluga oblast was created. Besides there already exist a second level of System for Analysis of Environmental Information on the basis of geoinformation technology for saving and processing environmental data in the system Windows for Workgroups, Arc View — 1.2.

Another example for the future elements of the EGSEM is the regional subsystem of the Perm’ oblast where monitoring is organised for:

— state of the air;

— state of the surface waters;

— pollution of underground waters;

— state of the forests;

— discharge and pollution from the industry;

— environmental factors influencing public health (radiological, toxicological, sanitary-hygienic, micro biological and physical) (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1996).

1.3.3. Existed elements of the EGSEM

At present the regional branches of GosComEcologii are carrying out monitoring of the sources of air pollution (quantity and composition of pollutants emitted to the atmosphere from the industry, agricultural farms and transport). 18.380 sources in 459 cities of the Russian Federation are controlled (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1996).

The State Service of Monitoring of Environmental Pollution (GSN) is carrying out monitoring of pollution of abiotic elements of the environment in the framework of EGSEM. Main aims of this system are:

— data collection on the state and levels of contamination of atmospheric air, fresh and sea water, soils and geological systems;

— to supply of the organisations involved in the General State System for the Warning and Liquidation of Consequences of Emergency Situations with relevant prognostic and operational information for the purpose population security; mitigation of consequences of extraordinary situations; decrease losses for the economy from natural disasters and antropogenic accidents;

— to supply of the agriculture, forestry, water users and municipal authorities, power engineering, transport, construction and other services with information about expected unfavourable events in the state of environment which can affect their functioning (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1996).

In the framework of the State’s Service of Monitoring of Environmental Pollution in the Russian Federation monitoring of air pollution is carried out in 284 cities and at 664 stations (in 234 cities this monitoring is provided by the departments of RosGidromet).

State Monitoring for the Geological Systems (GMGS) is a federal system of monitoring, evaluation, control and prognosis of the state of geological systems and their changes. The system of GMGS functions on the territory of the Russian Federation and includes the following elements:

— state framework of monitoring including monitoring 15.000 sites of for underground waters; 700 points for dangerous exogenic processes; 5 ranges and 30 chinks for research and forecast of earthquakes and seismic monitoring; 1 geochemical range and 5 stations for monitoring of geocriogenesis;

— local frameworks of monitoring of underground resource use;

— 57 regional centres of GMGS are included in local geological committees and geological industrial bodies;

— 3 regional centres of GMGS created in Central, North-Western and North Caucasus Regional Geological Centres (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1996).

1.3.4. Planning elements of the EGSEM

In accordance with the Decree of the Council of Ministers — Government of Russian Federation from 21 November 1993 No 1229 all miniseries and organisations of the mining industry should provide environmental monitoring. Moreover, MinPrirodi approved project «Temporary order of the mining-industrial environmental monitoring».

In 1995 the State’s Inspection on the Safe Use of Underground Resources (GosGorTechNadzor) checked the state of the environmental monitoring in the main ministries and organisations of the mining industry. The results showed, that environmental monitoring was done on extremely seldom basis.

For evaluation of undesirable impact of space rockets on the environment, Russian Space Agency (RKA) had established the System of Environmental Monitoring for Cosmodromes and Rockets Launches (SEMK).

In 1995 the first demonstration variant of SEMK was prepared. The main activities of SEMK included:

— display of different levels of geographical information about the state of environment in the routes of the rockets launches and location of places where of rocket falling parts is possible;

— creation of digital geographical maps and determination of subjects’ location on the surface;

— comparable evaluation of the environmental safety of rockets launches for different routes; evaluation of sizes of the areas which should be closed for other activities (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1996).

Among all the areas of environmental monitoring the most complicated and less developed both one in Russia and other countries is the monitoring of biota. Though a lot of publications exist devoted to the monitoring of different species and problems of bioindication in general, it is difficult to apply most of them in EGSEM because of the lack of unified methods.

At present in the frame of GosComEcologii elaboration of the system for monitoring of biota for the purposes of EGSEM has begun. This system includes three main elements:

— monitoring of flora;

— monitoring of fauna;

— monitoring of biota in protected areas.

The primary aim of this research identifies the more important indicators for each block of monitoring on federal and regional levels (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1996).

1.3.5. International obligations of the Russian Federation in the field of environmental monitoring

Activities in the Russian Federations related to international obligation in the field of environmental monitoring:

— development of the project «Global Environmental Monitoring for Natural Disasters»;

— development of the project «Arctic Monitoring»;

— integration into the international systems for environmental monitoring GSMOS/UNEP and GRID/UNEP;

— creation of International System of Environmental Monitoring of the states-members of CIS (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1996).

1.3.6. Main directions of increasing efficiency of actions for the creation of EGSEM

In accordance with the decisions of the Interagency Commission on Ecological Security of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation, adopted on 19 December 1995 (O povishenii effektivnosti…, 1995), the main directions of increasing efficiency of the actions for creation of EGSEM are:

— actions for faster adoption of the Federal Programme for Creation of EGSEM; adoption of Regulations on Federal Sub-Systems of EGSEM;

— actions of Ministries for the application of a systems for environmental monitoring of antropogenic influences of industrial and agricultural enterprises;

— actions of regional branches of GosComEcologii for control of observance of permissible norms of emissions of pollutants into the environment;

— actions for creation of regional sub-systems of EGSEM;

— adoption of the documents for regulation at activities of EGSEM and GSN;

— improvement of the existing system of environmental monitoring;

— improvement of the financial support for EGSEM programs from Federal authorities and regional environmental Funds (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1996).

The creation of EGSEM will allow to unify data collected on the basis of common standards. Moreover, environmental information will be more accessible by different groups of users.

At present on the territory of the former Soviet Union there is no common center for collection of environmental information. Besides there is no single library with books or databases about environmental problems of Newly Independent States.

1.4. Problem of secrecy and difficulty in accessing environmental information

1.4.1. Information «for official use only» («DSP»)

All information about the state of the environment in the USSR had different grades of secrecy. It was inaccessible for independent researchers, for the press and for the public. There was strict internal control in all State’s organisations which were collecting or analysing data about the state of environment. This was done in order to prevent passing data of environmental monitoring or of analysis of this data to the public (Larin, 1997).

Widely spread was the stamp «for official use only» («DSP»). Publications devoted to the pollution of environment in the former Soviet Union had this stamp. Even in the case when independent researchers had access to publications of GosComStat or GosComGidromet, reference to that information was prohibited by State political censorship. No publisher could publish material with data from issues with the stamp «DSP» or data on environmental pollution without reference to sources of information. Foreign sources of information on pollution of the environment in the USSR also were unavailable to the public.

1.4.2. First open publications of environmental data

The first official edition published in the press in 1987 named «Natural resources and protection of the environment» was the Jubilee statistical annual report of GosComStat USSR entitled «National Economics of the USSR for the 70 years» (Narodnoye choziaystvo SSSR za 70 let, 1987). This part of 766-pages volume contained 12 pages with very general figures, mainly devoted to utilisation of natural resources. This statistical annual report was published in 25.000 copes and in accordance with opinion of Head of Department of the Environmental Statistics of the GosComStat believes that it was an enormous success for that time (Dumnov, pers.comm.).

After the appearance of the Jubilee statistical annual report of GosComStat USSR periodical publications with more or less complete collections of data devoted to the problems of environmental pollution and natural disasters began. This was a remarkable point in the real beginning of the «perestroyka» in the USSR, which several years had been under the «green» slogans.

Around this time stamps «DSP» were cancelled from publications of GosComGidromet devoted to the monitoring of air and water pollution, background monitoring of environment, nuclear contamination, etc. It was possible to use data from those annual reports without fear, but they did not become more accessible. Political censorship was replaced by commercial censorship. The holders of primary data on the state of the environment for several decades now understood that this information is expensive and it should be sold, but there was no department responsible for trading of information. As a result the situation of independent researchers looking for reliable environmental information in the CIS today is not much better than in the times of the USSR.

1.4.3. Appearance of the «commercial censorship»

The problem is even more complicated because most of publications and data collections were published in only 40—200 copies and are very rare. To publish extra copies governmental organisations have no money, meanwhile the commercial organisations are not interested in selling environmental information on a wide scale. Moreover, the problem of trading information collected on the money from budget is unclear. This information should be spread free of charge or for modest payment because collection and processing of this information was already paid for from the budget i.e. taxpayer’s money.

Only several segments of data on the state of the environment in the Russian Federation, which is the successor state of the USSR ias concerns environmental information is still confidential; e.g. data on the state of nuclear navy and contamination of the environment linked to recycling of nuclear wastes. It is still difficult to obtain important non-confidential information for research because it is kept in different organisations in the different cities of Russia.

Large blocks of environmental information for the territory of the former USSR are located in Moscow, St.-Petersburg, Rostov-na-Donu and Obninsk (small city in Kaluga region about 100km S-W of Moscow). This is data concerning the whole territory of the former USSR. Primary environmental information about the state of the environment is kept in these regional centres. Besides, every organisation collecting this data has its own frameworks for collection and places (cities) for keeping data. In accordance to expert’s predictions, the creating of EGSEM could help to organise all these parts of environmental information in several large regional centres (for details see Chapter 2). Moreover, there will be an evaluation of the degree of reliability of this data and its accessibility for independent researchers.

1.4.4. Accessible places for keeping environmental information

There are several available to independent researchers places where data on the environment is kept. Each of these places for keeping of environmental information is specialised in different types of data collection. Unfortunately, due to financial limitations complete collection of all types of environmental data is not available.

The best libraries with environmental information are:

— library of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University (Budapest, Hungary) has more completed collection of data and environmental information for the territory of the former USSR, but it is not accessible for researchers from NIS countries because it is located abroad;

— library of the Socio-Ecological Union «EcoLine» (Moscow, Russia) collected by SoES and another NGO «Ecologiya», is not a big collection because of lack of funding;

— library of the Moscow Ecopresscenter (Moscow, Russia) is not complete, but contains the main publications of the GosComGidromet, GosComEcologii and GosComStat.

1.5. How to use collected environmental information

Environmental information collected by the official organisations both in Soviet times and at present was used for making of important political decisions about location of new industries and for adoption of state’s environmental policy.

In Soviet times, all important decisions were adopted by a narrow group of experts without discussion with independent researchers and without public participation. As a result of this policy serious mistakes and wide-scale environmental disasters happened very often. At present the process of decision-making has a more democratic character, but it also has problems linked to the communist past of most modern leaders. Adaptation of the new methods for decision making is still difficult.

Among the last achievements in the sphere of publication and application of environmental information collected by the governmental organisations the Annual Reports on the State of the Environment in Russian Federation prepared by the State Committee of the Russian Federation for Protection of the Environment (GosComEcologii) should be mentioned.

The first Soviet report from this series for the territory of the USSR was prepared in 1988. A more completed report was prepared for the Conference in Rio-de-Janeiro in 1992, but in that time the USSR was collapsing and this report appeared as the first State’s Report on the State of the Environment of the Russian Federation for 1991 (Gosudarstvenniy Doklad…, 1992) and as separate reports several other states of CIS. For the appearance of this report a remarkable role played the Counsellor for Ecology and Environment Protection Policy of the President of Russian Federation Alexey V. Yablokov.

The last report of this series was for 1996. From year to year reports become bigger by volume and by diversity of examined problems. It should be noted that the possibility for acquaintance with the completed versions of the Report is difficult for the public yet because it is printed in limited copies and is not for sale. Several «green» newspapers publish short versions of the Report. Moreover, environmental researchers and journalists can visit the GosComEcologii to study the complete text of the Annual State’s Report on the State of Environment of the Russian Federation.


Role and Place of the Main Environmental Organisations in the System for Collection of Environmental Information

2.1. System for collection of environmental information in the Russian Federation

Before the collapse of the USSR the Russian Federation had main role in the system of environmental monitoring and collection of data on the state of the environment for all the territory of the country. In Moscow, St.-Petersburg, Rostov-na-Donu, Obninsk and several others centres, situated in the Russian Federation, all data of monitoring, more or less processed, was accumulated.

Russian research and methodological institutions were the leading in the development of methods for proper and correct collection of primary data for all republics of the former Soviet Union. As an example, could be named the last edition of the «Manual Instruction for the Control of Atmospherics Pollution RD 52.04.186—89» (Rukovodstvo po kontrolu…, 1991), prepared under the supervision of the State Committee of the USSR for Hydrometeorology (Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of the Russian Federation at present) and Ministry of Health of the USSR.

The Russian system for collection of environmental information was affected to lesser degree after the collapse of the USSR in comparison with similar systems of the other NIS countries. In spite of the financial and structural crisis collecting of data on the state of environment did not stop, moreover in some cases it even increased (Tsaturov, pers.comm.).

The centralised system existing in the USSR enforced republics to send information to the Center — Moscow and several main centres — not only for keeping of data but also for data processing. Therefore, almost all data, collected during the history of the USSR is stored in several main organisations. Most of the data on the state of environment and its influence on public health, presented in annual reports of the RosGidromet, GosComStat, MinZdrav, etc. could be founded in Moscow, St.-Petersburg, Rostov-na-Donu and Obninsk.

The former Soviet republics kept information which was only on the state of environment on their respective territories. In many Newly Independent States the volume of data collecting decreased as a result of political, financial and other reasons. Data on the state of the environment after 1991 in the whole volume could be founded only in maim environmental organisations NIS, located in Moscow — if it is collected, processed and published.

Main parts of the data collected before the collapse of the USSR could be found in Moscow or in several regional centres, specialised in collecting special environmental information. For example, in the system of RosGidromet St.-Petersburg specialised in information on the state of air pollution (monitoring, processing of collected primary data, methodical support of all these actions). Rostov-na-Donu specialised in information on the state of fresh water pollution (monitoring, processing of collected data, methodical support). In Moscow is located the main office and several specialised departments (for monitoring of sea pollution, soil pollution, radioactive contamination, etc.). In Obninsk is located the International Center for data collection all meteorological information and data on environmental monitoring is kept (for details see Chapter 2.3.).

Within the system of GosComStat all environmental information, collected in the regions, comes to the main office in Moscow, where it is used for of preparation reference books and data collections (for details see Chapter 2.4.).

However, most of all environmental information of the former USSR and partly of NIS kept in the governmental organisations of Russian Federation.

2.2. Existing sources of environmental information

2.2.1. Institutional and organisational set-up of reporting and indicator framework

in the NIS

In the recent work «Environmental Reporting in Central and Eastern Europe: A Review of Selected Publications and Frameworks», the authors notice, that:

Only in very few cases in the required data collected within the systems of national environmental authorities. More often they have to count on information obtained by monitoring networks belonging to other agencies. These agencies are either responsible for the exploitation of natural resources not covered by the mandate of an environmental authority (e.g., mineral resources, waters, forests, lands, commercial wildlife and fish resources),for specific aspects of environmental issues (e.g., public health, emergency situations) or for collecting and managing specific types of information (e.g., national statistical offices, surveying and cartographic agencies, networks of hydrological and meteorological observations). Information may also be received from research and academic institutions and NGOs, however the extent of such co-operation depends upon a country’s attitude towards «unofficial» sources of information. (UNDP/CEU, Denisov et al., 1997).

From the point of view of governmental officers all reliable environmental information could be collected only by official organisations specialised for environmental monitoring (RosGidromet) or in collecting data about environmental pollution and influence of pollution on public health (GosComStat, MinZdrav, GosComSanEpidNadzor) (for details about limitations of official and non-official environmental information see Chapter 2.2.2. and 2.5.3.).

2.2.2. Limitations of reliability of collected data

Every system for collecting environmental information has limitations linking with the reliability of collected data. This limitation could be:

— methodological, due to incorrect or wrong methods of collecting and processing of data;

— technical, due to differences in equipment and used to wrong regulation of this equipment;

— organisational, due to problems of organisation of permanent work of system for collection of unified data from the vast territory. There is not enough control for quality of environmental information collected by the remote stations of environmental monitoring.

All listed limitations in reliability of collected data, as a rule, are minimised by the implementation of unified methods, used in large information frameworks. That is why it is possible to speak about good quality of environmental information collected by different official organisations. Anyway, the Russian Federation and NIS have no alternative systems for collection of environmental information and researchers are forced to use official data.

2.2.3. New participants in the process collecting environmental information

In the last years small organisations and are trying to compete in this sphere with state monopolists. For years analysis of the environment in the USSR was restricted for independent experts. All data on the state of the environment was confidential and any unauthorised activity around this problem was considered as illegal and prohibited. Citizens and independent researchers did not have access to official data and could not collect their own data about the state of environment (independent researchers are professionals and experts in the field of environmental problems which are not staff of governmental bodies — researchers, scientific journalists and writers, chemists, biologists and geographers, experts of NGOs, etc.).

This situation started to change during the «perestroyka» times when «ecological glasnost» become effective weapon for the new political reformers. Legal regulations in this sphere were not formed and holders of environmental information did not make it available for public use. It was the time when independent environmentalists wrote serious articles and books on the basis of newspaper publications.

At that time with the growing public concern about environmental problems small private enterprises started to appear, offering services for of air, water and soil analyses. Under the conditions of information vacuum this activity was successful. But the reliability of the information obtained was not better (and very frequently ever worse) than the data from official organisations. This was a result of poor equipment; bad training of the staff; absence of knowledge about existing methods for analysis of environmental samples; willingness to present not real, but expected information.

Data on the state of the environment at that time was collected by the following bodies, besides official organisations:

— non-governmental environmental organisations and independent researchers, who were using various equipment obtained, as a rule, from western partners or bought with the help of international foundations. For example, Moscow’s NGO «Ecologia», maintained research activity of NGOs in Cheliabinsk; «Socio-Ecological Union» organised scientific expeditions in the region of Techa-river; «Greenpeace» had any semi-scientific actions in different regions of the former USSR;

— small private firms, working on the basis of different state research organisations with well qualified professional staff and good equipment. For example, during several years on the basis of the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology (department of State Service for the Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring) worked a small firm (co-operative) for analyses of pesticides and other pollutants in soil (Buyvolov, pers. comm).

All these bodies and the official organisations, collected data with different limitations from the point of view of their reliability. In the non-governmental environmental organisations, as a rule, analysis were done by people without good training. Moreover, people who collected data were interested in getting sensational information for confirmation of their theories. Information, which did not fit their imaginations was often rejected (anti-nuclear actions of Greenpeace International and Russian Greenpeace in the region of island Novaya Zemlia on the North of Russia is more remarkable, but not the only example). In addition, the duration of the provided observation was short and occasional. After the end of the paid project collection of data, as a rule, stopped.

Activity of the semi-official firms existed on the basis of the state organisations had very limited period of time. They used standard equipment and obtained reliable data but permanent growth of prices of analyses made their work too expensive for most of the customers (Buyvolov, pers. comm). This way of collection of environmental information is not wide spread at present. Short period of observations reduces the value of expensive work accomplished.

2.3. Role and place of RosGidromet in the system of collection of environmental information

2.3.1. Background information about the system of monitoring of RosGidromet

In the Soviet times the Main Department for Hydrometeorological Service of the Council of Ministries of the USSR (RosGidromet at present) had very extensive network for monitoring of weather conditions and prognosis. That is why in the middle of the 60es, when this organisation was given the responsibility for control of environmental pollution, the framework for monitoring already existed. New subject of observations on environmental condition were added at the existing network. So in the USSR appeared the so-called State Service for Monitoring and Control for the Environmental Pollution and the System for the Complex Background Environmental Monitoring — OGSNK in Russian abbreviation, for monitoring of anthropogenic changes in the biosphere (Operativnaya deyatel’nost’…, 1990).

First data collection published by the Main Department of Hydrometeorological Service of the Council of Ministries of the USSR and the Main Voeykov Geophysical Observatory appeared in 1967 and was entitled «Review of the state of atmospheric pollution in cities and industrial centres of the USSR in 1966». This collection had stamp a «for official use only» (Obzor sostoyaniya…,1967) and censorship prohibited the use of data published in this report in open publications.

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