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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Trutnev: Pacific Pipeline Too Close to Baikal

Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said Thursday that a proposed route for an oil pipeline to carry Russian crude to energy-hungry Asian markets passed too close to Lake Baikal, the world's largest body of fresh water.

Trutnev said he had met with the head of national pipeline operator Transneft, Semyon Vainshtok, earlier in the day and expressed his concerns over the project, which follows the route of a railway line and passes less than 1 kilometer from the lake.

"We most likely won't agree with a project like this," Trutnev told a news conference. "Transneft has prepared a project that is the most cost-effective for it. Hurrah." An environmentally friendly compromise needs to be hammered out, he said.

Trutnev said he knew from personal experience that a pipeline rupture on a route so close to the lake would leave no time for emergency services to keep crude oil out of the water.

Lake Baikal contains one-fifth of the world's fresh water as well as up to 1,500 unique species of plants and animals.

With a depth of 1,637 meters in places, it is also the world's deepest lake and a UNESCO World Heritage site.