New Plants Called Risk To City Air

New metallurgical plants being built in nearby regions will threaten the environment in Moscow, City Hall's environmental protection committee said Thursday.

A plant for ferrous metals processing is currently being developed by Novolipetsk Steel and Maxi Group in the Kaluga Region, 100 kilometers from Moscow, without construction permits or a required regional plan for industrial development, committee said in a statement.

Because of wind patterns, "pollution is threatening not just the Kaluga region, but also Moscow and the Moscow region," it said.

There are other metal plants planned in the Kashirsky and Shatursky districts of the Moscow region, as well as metal plants in the Ivanovo, Tver and Voronezh regions.

Maxim Shireikin, head of investment projects with the Kaluga regional administration, denied allegations that the plant in Kaluga is being built without the required permits. "It respects the framework of current legislation," he said.

"There are huge Soviet factories much closer to Moscow in Electrostal, which pose a greater threat to the capital than the mini-factory in Kaluga that will use German equipment," Shireikin said. "Maybe there are covert motives for opposing the plant in Kaluga, but it's far enough from Moscow and can only expect opposition from 150 local dacha owners."

The Kaluga plant will bring in scrap metal from Moscow and the Kaluga region and produce, among other things, construction hardware for Moscow, Shireikin said. It will open in 2010, he said.

A Novolipetsk Steel spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment on the committee's statement.

Environmentalists said new plants are developed haphazardly without a larger vision of their possible ecological impact. "The main concern is that there is no big picture plan for developing potentially dangerous facilities in the region, and no environmental assessment is required in the planning stages," said Igor Chestin of the World Wildlife Fund.