Chaika Orders Probe Into Pulp Plant

The Prosecutor General's Office said Thursday that it was investigating a pulp plant controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska over pollution in Lake Baikal.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has ordered regional investigators in Irkutsk to determine whether Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mills, majority-owned by Deripaska's Basic Element holding, is operating illegally by dumping industrial waste into Baikal, the office said in a statement on its web site.

The plant was forced to suspend operations for five days in December by the Natural Resources Ministry. Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of the ministry's environmental watchdog, said on Dec. 17 that the mill was pumping an "unacceptable" amount of pollution into the lake, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The plant also has no permit for water use, the prosecutors' statement said.