The Barents Environmental Hot Spot List was initially defined in the report of the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) in collaboration with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) in 2003.
Barents Environmental Hot Spots are major polluters and issues, which impose significant environmental hazards to surrounding communities and nature. They are located in the Russian part of the Barents region: Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Regions, Nenets Autonomous Region, and the Republics of Karelia and Komi. Experts have foreseen potential for investment projects in these objects.
The Barents Environmental Hot Spot List from 2003 consists of 42 hot spots, representing various sectors, such as pulp and paper, mining and metallurgy, heat and power, water and wastewater, along with other polluted sites. In 2005, Environment Ministers of the four Barents countries - Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden - defined the mutual goal on launching investment projects in all of the 42 Barents Environmental Hot Spots, aiming for their elimination. Later on in 2010, a special exclusion procedure of the Environmental Hot Spots was presented to the Ministers of Environment. The temporary Subgroup on Hot Spots Exclusion was established under the BEAC Working Group on Environment to facilitate the process.
Since 2010, many joint projects have been implemented to tackle environmental challenges at the hot spots. Investments come from internal financial resources of the hot spots' owners and different funding mechanisms - such as Barents Hot Spot Facility (BHSF), Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) programmes, Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) grants and others. These projects improve water supply and sewage systems of towns and villages, enhance waste management, promote energy saving and reduce airborne emissions. Cooperation enables to achieve significant environmental improvements at many of the hot spots and lead to exclusion of hot spots from the Barents list. To date, eleven full hot spots and five partial ones have been eliminated, and the work on environmental progress at other sites is being continued.
Over the past years, the priority of cooperation was to align the work on Barents Environmental Hot Spots with the implementation of the Russian legislation on permit granting based on Best Available Techniques (BAT). The legislation aims at introducing a new system of state regulation on environmentally hazardous industries. The legislation requires industries to achieve specified conditions and to develop and implement action plans. In addition, since 2016 the design and implementation of Supporting Activities have strengthened the progress made on the environmental hot spots. The aim of so-called supporting activities is to use the collective expertise and experience of the Nordic countries and Russia to support the hot spots on taking further steps towards exclusion, strengthen environmental action and support the implementation of the Russian legislation on BAT.
The final decision on exclusion of the hot spots is taken at the meetings of the Barents Environmental Ministers. The meeting takes place every other year and aim for summarizing of results of the Chairmanship within the BEAC Working Group on Environment. Significant progress in pulp and paper industry and wastewater treatment in the Arkhangelsk Region and the Republics of Karelia and Komi was highlighted by the Ministers during the recent Ministerial Meeting in Luleå in February 2020. Due to the existing successful cooperation in the Barents region, four hot spots were excluded from the Barents Environmental Hot Spots list.
Eight-step exclusion procedure
List of excluded hot spots during 2011-2020:
2020 Ministerial Meeting in Luleå, Sweden:
A5 Koryazhma Pulp and Paper Mill in Arkhangelsk Region
A9-1 Enterprises of Pulp and Paper as sources of dioxin pollution in Arkhangelsk Region
K5 Sewage treatment in Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia
Ko3-2 Mondi Pulp and Paper Mill in Syktyvkar (discharge to water), Komi Republic
2017 Ministerial Meeting in Vadsø, Norway:
A4 Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill
Ko2-1 Vorkuta Cement Plant, Komi Republic
Ko7 Wood Waste in the nine forest districts of the Komi Republic
2015 Ministerial Meeting in Sortavala, Russia:
A3-2 Severodvinsk Heat and Power Central #2 of TGK #2, Arkhangelsk Region
K4 Drinking water quality in Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia
Ko3-1 Mondi Pulp and Paper Mill in Syktyvkar (emissions to air), Komi Republic
2013 Ministerial Meeting in Inari, Finland:
A2 Arkhangelsk Heat and Power Plant of TGK #2
K1 Kondopoga JSC (Gas emissions from Kondopoga Pulp and Paper Combined Mill), Republic of Karelia
N4 Mercury-containing waste management, Nenets Autonomous District
2011 Ministerial Meeting in Umeå, Sweden:
A10 Stocks of obsolete pesticides in the Arkhangelsk Region
K10 Stocks of obsolete pesticides in the Republic of Karelia
M8 Mercury-containing waste management, Murmansk Region
The exclusion procedure consists of eight steps implying examination of the environmental status of each hot spot. The status of the hot spots is examined by the federal and regional authorities of the Russian Federation. Based on the status assessment and the assessment of actions already carried out, the hot spot owner elaborates and carry out actions necessary to remove the hot spot from the list.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation with the Federal environmental and nature management supervision service are responsible for the overall implementation of the Exclusion Procedure. The practical operation is done by the five regional Hot spot Exclusion Groups (HEGs), established in Karelia, Komi, Arkhangelsk, Murmansk and Nenets. These groups are comprised by regional environmental authorities.
The BEAC Working Group on Environment’s subgroup on Hot Spot Exclusion coordinates the work for Hot Spot exclusion. The Nordic Environment Finance Corporation NEFCO manаges a special financial tool, the Barents Hot Spot Facility, to launch projects at the Hot Spots.
Implementation of Supporting Activities
Over the past years, the priority of cooperation was to align the work on Barents Environmental Hot Spots with the implementation of the Russian legislation on permit granting based on Best Available Techniques
(BAT). The Russian legislation on Best Available Techniques (BAT) for the industry was adopted in 2015 and aims at introducing a new system of state regulation on environmentally hazardous industries more similar to the Nordic countries. The legislation requires industries to achieve specified conditions and to develop and implement action plans. Around 300 enterprises were selected as pilots for the new legislation in 2015. Some of chosen enterprises are also on the Barents Hot Spot list, as Kola GML, owning the nickel producing plants in Nikel (Murmansk M1) and the Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill in Novodvinsk (Arkhangelsk A4).
In addition, since 2016 the design and implementation of Supporting Activities have strengthened the progress made on the environmental hot spots. The aim of so-called supporting activities is to use the collective expertise and experience of the Nordic countries and Russia to support the hot spots on taking further steps towards exclusion, strengthen environmental action and support the implementation of the Russian legislation on BAT.
The Barents cooperation on Hot Spots aims to contribute to capacity building for environmental authorities and Hot Spot owners to make the transition of the new BAT legislation smoother. Hot Spot supporting activities are developed with funding through the Barents Hot Spots Facility, a funding instrument managed by NEFCO. Through the Barents cooperation on Hot Spots, experts from the environmental authorities of the Barents countries meet and exchange their experiences and practices.
Since there are strong synergies between the exclusion procedure and the permit granting process, the ambition is to use the BAT-reform as a lever to promote environmental action and technical modernization on the Barents hot spots as well as beyond to impact environmentally hazardous enterprises across the Russian Federation.