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Monitoring of Nord Stream 2 construction in Russia: no significant impact on environment

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,

The environmental monitoring of the Nord Stream 2 offshore and onshore construction in Russia shows that impacts have been in line with or less than predicted, confirming the conclusions of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.

The 2020 monitoring – the last cycle during the construction stage – demonstrates localised and short-term impacts in line with project documentation:

  • No impacts occurred at the offshore section, and ichthyofauna was not affected. There were no changes found in marine biota living conditions, water quality, bottom sediments, or benthic and planktonic community structures, as compared to the 2019 monitoring prior to the construction and 2015-2016 survey data.
  • Impact on the Kurgalsky Nature Reserve habitats was in line with the EIA: no negative impacts on the soil or hazardous exogenous processes were detected.
  • No impact was detected on the hydrological regime of the Kader Swamp habitat in the Specially Protected Area.
  • The impact on vegetation was as predicted in the project assessment, with a marginal effect on the growing conditions of species contained within a few metres from the construction corridor.
  • Transplanted protected plants were assessed as stable, both in terms of individual specimens and populations.
  • Perennial grasses have covered the reinstated areas and are showing steady growth.
  • There has been no impact on animals in the Kurgalsky reserve. Ungulate migration near the construction corridor has been restored.
  • No significant impacts have been identified on bird nesting, including rare species. No changes were found in fauna composition or bird behaviour (both nesting and migratory) in the Gulf of Finland.

Nord Stream 2’s comprehensive environmental monitoring programme for the construction of the pipeline in Russia is based on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and approved by the Main Department of State Expertise as a prerequisite to receiving a construction permit in Russia. The monitoring of the construction corridor on Kurgalsky Peninsula and in the Gulf of Finland in Russia focuses on geological, physical-chemical (e.g., water and air quality) and biological (e.g., birds and marine mammals) environmental parameters.

Environmental monitoring in Russia has been conducted since the beginning of construction in 2018. The extensive observation programme was developed by JSC FRE?OM, one of Russia’s most experienced environment consultancies. Several specialised institutions, laboratories and independent consultants were involved in the monitoring work, including: the State Hydrological Institute; the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography; the Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry; the Mendeleev All-Russian Institute for Metrology; the Arctic & Antarctic Research Institute; experts of the St Petersburg Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and others. Environmental monitoring reports are regularly submitted to relevant authorities and verified through on-site inspections by their representatives.

Additional monitoring activities were carried out through specialist studies to enhance scientific knowledge of the Kurgalsky Peninsula and the Gulf of Finland habitats.

  • A previously unknown pod of grey seals was found at the Sommers island rockery. In addition, for the first time, it was possible to trace the migration route of the Baltic ringed seal from the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland to the western coast of Estonia through studies conducted from 2017 to 2019 using telemetry sensors under the scientific supervision of Mart Jussi (NPO Pro Mare, Estonia) and Mikhail Verevkin (St. Petersburg Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia).
  • Thanks to the thorough plant monitoring carried out by JSC ECOPROJECT, several of the rare protected species were discovered in the area in 2020. Hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), a protected plant listed in the Red Data Book of the Leningrad Region, was found in the valley of the Rosson River. Green shield moss (Buxbaumia viridis), a rare species not seen in the Leningrad region since the 19th century, was also found within the Kurgalsky reserve.
  • With the help of GPS-GSM transmitters, ECOPROJECT also arranged close monitoring of one of the two white-tailed eagle chicks that fledged in the Kurgalsky reserve in summer 2020. The observations broadened expert understanding of the eagles’ habitat and movement patterns both within the reserve and beyond. The fledglings were bred by a white-tailed eagle pair, which had previously nested within the immediate vicinity of the construction corridor and later built a new breeding nest two kilometres from the pipeline, keeping the old one for recreation.

The environmental monitoring in Russia will be continued to assess further recovery of natural biotopes onshore and offshore. At the offshore section, surveys of all biotic components and annual hydro- and geochemical monitoring of the water area are planned to be conducted seasonally in the first two years of operations, after which the surveys will be continued at sparser intervals. The three-year monitoring in the Kurgalsky Nature Reserve will focus on: vegetation within the corridor; restoration of the peat; exogenous processes in the dunes; the structure and condition of plant communities in areas adjacent to the pipeline route; the recovery of rare and protected flora species, biotopical fauna distribution, nesting sites of rare and protected species; and animal migration routes.

Nord Stream 2’s monitoring in Russia is part of a comprehensive environmental monitoring programme along the entire pipeline route to assess the environmental impact of the project before, during and after construction. This monitoring is a commitment made by Nord Stream 2, and a legal requirement applicable in Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, through which the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline passes.



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