The content of the three heavy metals nickel, cadmium, and copper in the Pasvik River in Eastern Finnmark, Northern Norway, was reduced by as much as 70-80 percent in 2021, compared to the last five years before the smelting plant in Nikel, Russia, was closed.
"The concentration of nickel in the Pasvik River went from being almost three times as high as the recommended limits in the five final years before the smelting plant in Nikel, Russia, was closed in 2020, to going well under the limit one year after the plant was closed," says Director of the Norwegian Environment Agency, Ellen Hambro, in a press release.
According to new numbers from the Norwegian Environment Agency's monitoring program for rivers, the amount of the heavy metals nickel, cadmium, and copper in the Pasvik River has been reduced by as much as 70-80 percent already in 2021. This is compared to the final five years before the operation at the Nikel smelting plant was closed down in December 2020.
According to the agency, the amount of copper in the river was well under the limit in 2021, while cadmium was almost gone from the river.
The smelting plant in the city of Nikel in northwest Russia is located only a few kilometers from the Norwegian border and has been a source of pollution in the Norwegian border areas in eastern Finnmark for decades. Much of the yearly emissions at around 60 000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide has made its way into Norwegian rivers, waters, and nature, and heavy metals have been released from the production of nickel at the factory.
The Norwegian Environment Agency also points out that it is not only the water that has become cleaner in eastern Finnmark. One of their recent reports shows that the air quality in the area is the best it has been in half a century after the smelting plant was closed down.
"The results from the Pasvik River are very positive, although it is important to emphasize that there is always some uncertainty surrounding results from one single year of research. We will follow up with monitoring of the conditions in the time coming," adds Hambro of the Norwegian Environment Agency.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.