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With the Rosneft Support, Scientists from TSU Investigate the Spread of Microplastics in Rivers

27 July 2021

Scientists from Tomsk State University (TSU), who are studying the migration of plastic microparticles in the environment, have completed the first stage of the survey of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River, a large tributary of the Yenisei, located in the Evenki municipal district. The project is being implemented with grant support from the East Siberian Oil and Gas Company (VSNK), a subsidiary of Rosneft Oil Company.

The proliferation of plastic microparticles is one of the topical, but poorly understood, environmental problems of a planetary scale, attracting the attention of scientists.

In June 2021, TSU scientists took samples of water, bottom sediments, and fish food tract to assess the content of microplastics in the area of the Erbogachen village, located in the upper reaches of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska in the Irkutsk region. Surface water sampling was carried out using a modern sampler equipped with a plankton net, which can retain small plastic particles. Subsequently, in laboratory conditions, microplastics are separated from impurities and their origin is investigated.

The obtained samples analysis will make it possible to assess the degree of pollution of the Lower Tunguska in the upper reaches. At the second stage, in August 2021, the research group plans to work already at the confluence of the tributary into the Yenisei River, in the Turukhansk District of the Krasnoyarsk Territory.

Plastic materials decompose slowly in the environment, this process can take centuries. In this case, larger fragments of plastic materials in water and soil disintegrate relatively quickly into particles known as microplastics. These particles can travel long distances, as well as accumulating in ecosystems, harming their inhabitants through food chains. The scientists’ task is to determine the degree of this influence both near megacities and in remote protected areas. Sparsely populated areas, where there are no large industrial enterprises and a low population density, can serve as a kind of reference point for understanding the patterns of microplastics migration. Another factor in the pollution of rivers is intensive fishing: fishing gear is fragmented, microfibers enter the water, and from it into the fish organism.

Environment protection is an integral part of Rosneft's corporate culture and one of the key operation principles. The Company has been a participant in the UN Global Compact for more than 10 years. In 2018, Rosneft confirmed its commitment to 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. In support of these goals implementation, the Company has developed an Environmental Development Concept which includes approaches to the rational use of water resources and measures to preserve, protect and replenish aquatic biological resources.

Note for Editors:

The East Siberian Oil and Gas Company develops the Yurubcheno-Tokhomskoye oil and gas condensate field in the Evenki district of Krasnoyarsk Territory.

The VSNK grant program in support of research having practical importance for Evenkia has been operating since 2014. During this time, oilmen have supported more than 20 scientific works related to the ecology and biodiversity conservation of the northern territories, as well as supporting the traditions and way of life of the indigenous peoples of the North. Among them are projects to study the population of wild reindeer, ecosystems of the Tunguska and Central Siberian reserves, the development of the first Red Book of Evenkia, the revival of the Evenk language and others.

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July 27, 2021