Fire fighting efforts are falling behind schedule

Fire fighting efforts are falling behind schedule

08 June 2011

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Russia — Fire-fighting efforts in Moscow Region are falling behind schedule as more evidence of the health impact of last year’s smog emerges.

Just 6,000 hectares of vulnerable peat bogs have been flooded so far this year, when the annual target figure is 22,000 hectares.

And regional governor Boris Gromov told deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov that the documentation to advance the scheme will be ready at the end of July.

Localized planning

In past years firefighting plans have been developed on a nationwide basis, but following last year’s smog-choked weeks in Moscow the capital’s immediate surroundings have been given special attention.

Zubkov said that President Dmitry Medvedev and the government were taking a close interest in this year’s progress, Kommersant reported.

And Gromov announced that the planned flooding had started on May 5-7 – two weeks after Medvedev lambasted officials for delays in firefighting plans.

Landfill alert

As well as the smoldering peat bogs which contributed to last summer’s smoke-out, two other problems have been found in the forests.

A large number of rubbish dumps threaten to release toxic fumes if they catch fire, with Gromov blaming fly tippers for the fleets of abandoned cars and reams of discarded trash.

Meanwhile fallen trees felled by the ice rain storms in December have not been removed, which could restrict access for fire-fighting teams.

Health risks

Last year’s smog was blamed for doubling the death rate in Moscow during those grim midsummer days.

And a new study by medics has found an increase in the number of diseases of the nasal cavity, RIA Novosti reported.

While precise figures were not announced, Galina Tarasova of the Federal Clinical Center of Otolaryngology, said: “Last year’s trouble from the fires has exacerbated and increased cases of sinusitis and diseases of the nasal cavity. It is very frequent in the chronically ill.”

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