Old desolate shafts contain a dangerous substance that is streaming down into the Nerl River
Exploded shafts near the Nerl River in Russia's Vladimir region are collapsing one after another. It is necessary to decontaminate and them urgently. Meanwhile, it is not yet clear what was buried in the shafts long ago. Departments concerned with the problem say that banknotes withdrawn from circulation were buried in the shafts in the Vladimir region long ago. Ecologist Mikhail Devochkin thinks that the shafts are filled with toxic chemical agents.
The Nerl River supplies water to the whole southwestern sector of Russia's Vladimir region, and also to the cities of Suzdal and Vladimir. Tests of water in the river held some time ago revealed that farms and a fermentation plant were discharging toxic agents into the river. However, the ecologist insists that toxic agents have been streaming down into the river from the neglected shafts for several years already. Mikhail Devochkin even showed four former shafts to an IvanovoNews correspondent. They had been blown up in 1992, and men with guns cordoned the shafts off in 1996. Soldiers in chemical suits unloaded a secret load from ten lorries.
A shaft situated one kilometer from the settlement of Mirslavl started collapsing a year ago. It contained a seething brown liquid - a chemical reaction was in progress. Old banknotes were scattered here and there around the shaft. But no notes could be seen inside the shaft. Mikhail Devochkin said that he regularly visited the place, but saw the notes for the first time; it is not ruled out they had been put there shortly before our visit to the place. The territory around the shaft has been dug up; eople look for abandoned military cables there.
There is a shaft near the village of Vorontsovo. The cover of the shaft has been blown off as a result of an explosion. Just a week ago, the shaft started sinking. It was the first shaft that had been blocked off, half a year before specialists began to allow filling fill shafts with banknotes that had been withdrawn from circulation. Mikhail Devochkin thinks that the stories of old banknotes are just a cover for chemical weapons or wastes of chemical weapon production that are kept in the shafts. He says that a red toxic agent that can be seen near the shafts confirms this hypothesis. Although the shafts had been cordoned off by armed soldiers, the locals could see that some substance resembling red beans was spilling out of sacks. The water level inside of the shaft is low, which means that the substance dissolved into in the water and streamed down into the river.
Just a week ago, a shaft near the village of Ksty was safe, but now it is collapsing as well. There are no banknotes in the central shaft and in its branches. The ecologist explains that, as these shafts are situated at some distance away, the military didn't bring money withdrawn from circulation to this place as well. The federal authorities allowed the military to bury old banknotes only in safe shafts. But the military filled the collapsed shaft structures, which had been destroyed with explosions, with some sort of toxic substance.
We saw a fourth shaft near the village of Kuneyevo. Banknotes that had been in circulation before the currency reform were floating in the shaft. But Mikhail Devochkin said the notes had been brought there just a couple of weeks before our visit. Some people had brought the money there.
In fact, not all banknotes withdrawn from circulation were subject to liquidation and burying in the neglected shafts. To all appearances, the notes were piled into the shafts because some people wanted to conceal a more dangerous substance inside. (This is not even the discharge of nuclear fuel inside of them.) But the substance is especially dangerous because it is streaming down into the Nerl River. The only way out to save the situation is to decontaminate the contents of the shafts, scoop them out and remove them.
An IvanovoNews correspondent was told by the regional Natural Resources Department that the RF Ministry of Defense had appropriated finances for the recovering of territories near the desolate shafts. The problem has been recently touched upon by the military at a conference held together with the regional administration. The first stage of the solution to the problem involves chemical tests of the shafts' contents. The results of the examination will have an effect upon the second stage of the operation. It is not decided yet whether the operation will be decontamination or only leveling of the territory. Top military officials still insist that the shafts are not dangerous; only old banknotes have been kept there, nothing more.
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