Russia Will Spend 14 Billion Rubles to Shut Polluting Paper Mill

Russia will spend about 14 billion rubles ($430 million) to close the Baikal pulp and paper mill in southern Siberia after the United Nations called for its shutdown on concern it pollutes water.

The funds include 3 billion rubles from the state budget to address environmental damage caused by the plant on Lake Baikal, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said yesterday at a meeting in Irkutsk, according to the government’s website.

Russia decided to close the mill in February after the UN threatened to remove the lake’s World Heritage Site designation. The debt-strapped plant, one of the biggest employers in the area, was last year fined for discharging toxic effluent into the lake, the world’s largest source of freshwater.

“It was not easy to make this decision because it’s always a balance between environmental interests and the future of the people who work at the industrial site,” Medvedev said. “Nevertheless, the decision is made and we are preparing measures to fulfill it.”

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