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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ecologists Slam Pacific Pipeline

Environmentalists slammed the proposed route for an oil pipeline from Siberia to the Pacific coast Tuesday, arguing that it could send thousands of tons of crude oil spilling into the world's largest freshwater body in just 20 minutes if it were ruptured.

In a report, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups said a new route should be selected to avoid having the pipeline pass within 800 meters of Lake Baikal.

The project also includes a giant oil terminal in a vulnerable and wildlife-rich bay on the Pacific coast.

The report called on banks and potential lenders to boycott the project, which is being built by state pipeline monopoly Transneft and is expected to cost between $11 billion and $17 billion.

"Of course, there would be no realistic way to stop the oil from getting into Baikal in this situation," said Mikhail Kreindlin of Greenpeace. "This is an extremely serious threat."

Kreindlin noted that officials from UNESCO had suggested that Lake Baikal could be removed from its list of world heritage sites in the event of a spill.

Baikal is considered an environmental treasure, containing one-fifth of the world's fresh water and up to 1,500 unique species of plants and animals.

The Natural Resources Ministry announced in September that it could not support Transneft's proposed route due to its proximity to Baikal.