Volokolamsk, located about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Moscow, is a relatively quiet town usually. However, lately, it has been bursting at the seams with protesters wearing gas masks and surgeon masks! All of this commotion is the result of a rubbish removal problem at the nearby Yadrovo landfill.
The source of the rubbish removal problem all started when residents of Balashikha, a suburb of Moscow, called into President Vladimir Putin’s televised call-in show. They complained about the terrible stench emanating from the Kuchino landfill. In response, to “fix” the problem President Putin ordered Sergei Donskoy, the Environment Minister, to close the Kuchino landfill within one month.
The Environment Minister wanted to wait until 2021 when they would have another landfill open to take the waste removal from the Kuchino landfill, but President Putin would not allow them to wait. He was intent on showing leadership by making a quick decisive (impulsive) decision.
So, what was good for the residents of Balashikha turned out to be a terrible thing for the residents of Volokolamsk. The Kuchino landfill received about a hundred truckloads of rubbish removal a day! All that rubbish removal had to go somewhere, so it got farmed out to several other landfills that were already at capacity, including the Yadrovo landfill.
The Yadrovo landfill was not equipped to contain the copious amounts of methane gas and hydrogen sulfide gas produced by all that extra rubbish removal. These noxious gases not only filled the air with a rotten egg stench, but the gas was also so dense, it created a toxic breathing situation. Many people got deathly ill. Children, with their smaller body sizes and immature immune systems, began developing severe rashes, asthma, nausea, dizziness, and other signs of toxicity. At one point, seventy-seven children had to be rushed to Volokolamsk hospital to be treated for gas poisoning. Beloved pets, with even smaller body size, were falling over dead!
Something HAD to be done, so people took to the streets on April 14, 2018!
In a town with only about 22,000 residents, many thousands of them joined the protests. From photos captured by non-Russian journalists, many of the children in the protests were wearing gas masks, and almost all the adults were wearing some type of mask. People shouted, pleaded, and begged for help. One man shouted to return all that rubbish removal back to Moscow!
How did the Russian government react to the protestors’ pleas?
Andrei Zhdanov, the organizer of the protest, was jailed for fourteen days. The charge was he was preventing access to “infrastructure” by organizing the protest, which the government deemed as illegal. His home was also raided and searched.
Pyotr Lazarev, the mayor of Volokolamsk, had his house raided and searched for many hours. Finally, after many hours, he was given a reason: he had “allowed” the protest about the rubbish removal gases to proceed.
Several businesses were raided and searched if their owners had participated in the protest. This included the offices of Volokolamskaya Nedelya, a local newspaper that had been covering the complaints and protests about the Yadrovo landfill.
Let this action in Russian serve as a warning to all of us…
Whatever problems we have in the free world, the non-communist world, our ability to protest when something is terribly wrong with our government should never be taken for granted. We must always fight for this right and never let any new laws or practices chip away at these rights.
When dozens of CHILDREN have to be taken to the hospital because the rubbish removal in a landfill has gotten so out of control, it is poisoning the air they breathe, people should have their voices heard and their leaders should respond accordingly to fix the problem immediately…. a REAL fix, not just passing the problem on to another location!
Hopefully, President Putin will take the much-needed action of dealing with harmful gases at the Yadrovo landfill very soon instead of putting the focus on raiding people’s homes and businesses.
While many communities address their rubbish removal problem by building new landfills, as old ones overflow, the emphasis should be on reducing the amount of rubbish removal that goes to the landfills!
In the UK, Clearabee serves a critical role in this endeavor by diverting more than ninety percent of all rubbish they collect from the landfills. Instead, Clearabee, a private on-demand rubbish removal company, looks for ways to upcycle, reuse, and recycle the rubbish they collect. If you live in the UK, give them a call to help do your part in diverting rubbish removal from our landfills… and stand in solidarity with citizens in other countries who don’t have this right.