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Orchids to Bloom

Date of publication: 7 December 2017 Printable version

Oil transport workers fulfilled an extensive programme of environment conservation efforts at ESPO 2.

The Year of Ecology was marked by a series of unique projects for Transneft’s Far Eastern subsidiary – unique even under the Company’s standards, one of the invariable priorities for which is environment conservation.


Botanists will move the young plants of rare orchids that have grown in these flasks into open soil by March. Photo: Alina Smirnova

Highest Level of Monitoring

One of the key objectives – not to harm the unique Far Eastern nature – was determined at the start of phase II construction of Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean (ESPO-2) pipeline. The same fundamental principle was applied to subsequent operation of the facility by Transneft Far East.

For example, the Unified Control System (UCS) for the oil trunk pipeline is responsible, in particular, for monitoring of the main oil transportation parameters – working pressure, consumption, temperature. UCS records any deviations from the standard, if necessary, gives a command – and the oil pipeline traffic automatically stops.

Tanks with a floating roof proved to be an effective environment conservation effort, helping minimize oil evaporation.  In a nutshell, virtually everything is well thought of. We went as far as to fit up the oil pump stations (PS) with the wastewater treatment facilities, to the level when the wastewater can be discharged to fishery reservoirs.

“Three accredited laboratories are engaged in environmental monitoring at the enterprise,” tells Leonid Tuboltsev, Head of the Environmental Safety and Rational Nature Management Section (ES&RNM), Transneft Far East. “They make thorough checks of natural and wastewaters, soil, bottom deposits, air.”

By the by, there were no instances when maximum permissible concentration of noxious substances was exceeded for the tested components in the pipeline construction period and during ESPO-2 operation.

Even though these efforts are taken to prevent emergencies, the enterprise is always ready to efficient response to their consequences. The fleet constantly operates in the Amur; special units are equipped with the booms for operations in summer and in winter, oil skimmers, containers for temporary storage of hydrocarbons, waste disposal installations and special equipment.

Transneft Far East was regarded as the EcoLeader among industrial companies in the Khabarovsk Territory twice. In 2016, the Company became the best of Transneft subsidiaries in the Leader in Environment Conservation and Industrial Safety / Process Control categories.  In 2017, Transneft Far East conducted the inspection audit for compliance with ISO 14001:2004 global environmental standard. Global certificates were extended.

Taking care of Pogonia

As part of the compensator efforts, the Company holds the most surprising and complex actions to preserve natural biodiversity. Next summer, Far East residents will be able to enjoy the taiga rarity, the Red-Book swamp orchid, Pogonia japonica. So far, only botanists have known of these small plants with soft pink flowers - the pogonia grows in hard-to-access swamps and marshes. Now employees of the Environmental Safety and Rational Nature Management Section, together with scientists from the Far Eastern Botanical Garden – Institute of RAS Far Eastern Branch, were the first in Russia to get down to increase the rare orchid population. It will be planted in the Smidovich District of the Jewish Autonomous Region.

To be more precise, in the neighbourhood of the future PS No. 32 of East Siberian – Pacific Ocean oil pipeline.

The young plants are obtained using in vitro technology. Three expeditions were organized to collect orchid seeds – to swampy areas of Khasan and Lazov District of the Primorye Territory, and also to Sakhalin Island. Scientists took 20 seed boxes from each point. They planted them to agar-agar, and almost a dozen flasks are under stratification in the fridge.

“In wild nature, orchid seeds spring with the help of microscopic fungi that trigger the embryo development,” tells Alexey Salokhin, Head of the Laboratory for Introduction and Selection of Ornamental Plants of the Botanical Garden. “They are substituted for growth-stimulating hormones in the lab, in the sterile environment.”

By March, the young plants will be transferred to the open soil. In June, when the first true leaves and flowers appear, the plants will be delivered by air to Khabarovsk and then to the Jewish Autonomous Region and be settled for permanent residence. Transneft Far East environmentalists will monitor these plants. The remaining springs will be added to the Botanical Garden collection and its genetic pool.

Increase in Pogonia population is just one of numerous projects.

“2017 became the Environment Conservation Year in Transneft; we conceived and implemented a rather extensive program,” notes Leonid Tuboltsev.

The list of specific efforts is very long. For instance, Transneft Far East professionals monitor growth of the Red-Book spreading yew seedlings in the Varvarovskoye forestry (Primorye Territory). They also follow the state of supports for large-bird nestlings in the Aistiny reserve, which appeared in the Khabarovsk Territory in connection with ESPO-2 laying down.

Release of grown young fishes into the natural environment is another compensatory effort. In 2017, the Amur and its tributaries in the Khabarovsk Territory, Jewish Autonomous Region and the Amur Region released sturgeon, Siberian salmon and European carp juveniles once again.

By the way, to control over the business units’ operations, the Company developed the method to assess the same in terms of environment conservation. Of course, the most significant certificates are issued by the ecosystem. For instance, the site near oil pump station No. 40  in the Primorye Territory was selected by Ussurian  tigers, which clearly proves that we managed to fully preserve the “striped cats” habitat.

“It is not the first appearance of tigers near ESPO-2 facilities,” reminds Leonid Tuboltsev. “The predators’ numerous traces were noticed near PS No. 36 in the Khabarovsk Territory, and PS No. 41 in the Anuchino District of Primorye Territory, off the village with the self-speaking name of Tigrovoe.

This summer, the Red-Book Far Eastern storks made a nest near oil pump station No. 34 in the Khabarovsk Territory and brought out nestlings. It is noteworthy that these birds are very cautious and fearful. Their nests near an operating enterprise are the natural indicator of environmental safety of the industrial facility.

Large cleaning

Transneft Far East employees go planting trees or picking litter, turning up their sleeves, on a regular basis, as part of the All-Russian Project: Clean Banks to Our Rivers and Lakes. Such environmental actions became a routine event for the Company’s employees. For instance, this year, oil transport workers, together with their children, cleaned up the territory of one of the most popular leisure venues of the residents, in the Vtoraya Sedmaya River in the Vyazemy District of Khabarovsk Territory. Almost 1 km of the coastal area was cleared of litter.  Before that, their peers had picked up litter on the Tom River bank in the Amur Region, the Khingana River bank in the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Amur bank in the Khabarovsk Territory, and the Malinovka and the Odarka in the Primorye Territory.

“The Vtoraya Sedmaya River proved to be the purest,” emphasized Luiza Ismailova, Engineer and Ecologist of the company. “Just 15 litter bags were collected there, unlike the situation with the Malinovka River where we needed to bring a KamAZ truck to remove litter from the bank.”

Transneft’s young professionals held an environmental litter pick in the Sysoev Amur Area Zoo (Khabarovsk). Before that, dozens of young plants had been delivered to the zoo.  The company’s employees planted a hedge of coniferous plants and Kurilan tea, made the Japanese hill of arborvitae, juniper, boxwood, hydrangea, and creepers near the fountains, and the territory was backfilled for the hares’ and rabbits’ “town”.

In 2017, all of Transneft Far East business units took part in the environmental litter picks and events in municipal entities. 50 trees were planted in the Gorky Garden and at the monument to arsenal warriors in Khabarovsk: larches, maples, rowans, lindens, oaks. In Belogorsk, 270 pines, birches and spruces were planted near houses where the enterprise’s employees live, and in Dalnerechensk 200 rowans and pines were planted in the Vsevolod Sibirtsev Garden and in the municipal park.

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