According to the John Nurminen Foundation, the annual phosphorus load of more than 1,000 tonnes from Phosphorit fertiliser plant located by the side of River Luga in North-West Russia to the Gulf of Finland must be addressed as soon as possible. Current information shows that this is the most significant single point source of phosphorus not only at the Gulf of Finland, but also in the entire Baltic Sea area. The authorities are currently still charting out the overall situation, but at the same time immediate solutions for rapid reduction of the phosphorus load should be identified. The Foundation has thus offered consultancy assistance to the leadership of the Phosphorit plant to find a quick technical solution to this problem.
Information about the load is particularly worrying since almost all of the phosphorus load from Phosphorit is readily available for algae. However, since this is a point source, it will be possible to address these emissions by rapid and efficient actions. Finns have a long experience from controlling similar industrial run-off emissions. Targeted measures have allowed efficient cuts in the phophorus load from Uusikaupunki plant of current Yara Suomi Oy.
The emissions from Phosphorit are significant, but it may be possible to achieve control of these with relatively small investments. The Foundation has discussed with experts from Pöyry to find solutions for controlling the phosphorus load from the plant area. Pöyry’s preliminary estimate is that it may be possible to lead the phosphorus-containing run-off waters from Phosphorit plant area to a drainage treatment plant with investments estimated at EUR 13-18 million.
This investment is comparable to that made to the South-West Waste Water Treatment Plant in St. Petersburg where the amount of phosphorus produced by 750,000 inhabitants can be treated. The cost for this investment was EUR 200 million, while it would be possible at Phosphorit plant to cut a phosphorus load equivalent to an amount of phosphorus produced by more than one million people with an investment that is less than one tenth of the investment made in St. Petersburg.
Furthermore, coagulants are required to remove the phosphorus, and annual costs for these are about EUR 2 million.
It should also be investigated in longer term whether the production processes at Phosphorit plant are correctly optimised with such a high wastage level of phosphorus. However, we must first implement the rapid first aid measures described above to achieve an immediate control of the phosphorus emissions to the Gulf of Finland.
Marjukka Porvari, Director of the Foundation’s Clean Sea projects, attended the HELCOM meeting in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, 18 January, where this issue was discussed.
Director, Clean Sea Projects
John Nurminen Foundation
Tel. +358-41-549 1535
John Nurminen Foundation
Tel. +358-40-825 8071