MOSCOW, August 6 (RIA Novosti) – Air pollution in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s two most populous cities, is rated the second and third worst in the country, respectively. The absolute worst, with air-pollutant emissions rated more than twice as high, is in the far-northern Siberian city of Norilsk, home to the world’s largest nickel producer.
Norilsk, a city of 170,000 people above the Arctic Circle, emitted nearly 2 million tons of pollutants into the atmosphere last year, whereas Moscow, whose population is 70 times bigger, emitted about 1 million tons, according to a rating based on State Statistics Service data that were published by RIA Rating on Tuesday.
Norilsk, where the vast majority of air pollution is industry-related, has continually ranked the worst since such data were first released in 1992.
Moscow, with a population exceeding 12 million, did not make the biannual rating’s last top 10 list but scored higher this time because the latest rating factors in not just industrial pollution but also emissions from cars, which accounted for 92 percent of Moscow’s total, compared with 0.5 percent for Norilsk.
The top five was rounded out by St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-biggest city at 5 million; the Vologda Region’s Cherepovets, which has a population of 300,000 as well as numerous metals and chemical enterprises; and Ural Mountain asbestos producer Asbest, population 69,000, the report said.
Most entries in the top 20 were either hubs of various “dirty” industries or urban centers with a population of more than 1 million, the report said.
Russia’s total air emissions stood at 19.6 million tons last year, a slight increase from 19.2 million tons in 2011, according to the State Statistics Service.
Two Russian cities have made the latest list of the world’s most polluted places by US-based environmental watchdog Blacksmith Institute, which also featured entries from Azerbaijan, China, India, Peru, Ukraine and Zambia. One Russian entry was Norilsk; the other was the central Russian city of Dzerzhinsk, a major chemical weapon producer during Soviet times.