March 4. 2024. 8:41

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Report: Nord Stream explosions led to ‘ecological catastrophe’


The September 2022 explosions that blew up Nord Stream pipelines, running from Russia to Germany at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, led to an ecological catastrophe and put local and endangered species at risk, according to a recent study by Research Square.

The sabotage and explosions that destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines did not only sour relations between Russian and the West, but they also set off a chain reaction in the marine environment that risks giving endangered species like cod and various porpoises the final push over the edge, according to a recent study.

Bo Øksnebjerg, Secretary General of the World Wildlife Fund, shared this view.

“We’ve got another peg in the Baltic’s coffin. The report shows that a lot of damage has been done and a lot of toxic substances have come up into the water column,” he said. The explosions and the ensuing water jets stirred up over 250,000 tonnes of contaminated seabed containing toxic substances.

These include TBT, a substance that destroys the reproductive capacity of fish, according to Hans Sanderson, senior researcher at the Department of Environmental Sciences at Aarhus University, who led the team behind the report. The problem is that the marine environment of the Baltic Sea is already struggling to survive.

According to the report, the explosions have increased pollution in the Bornholm Deep, where cod breed and the northernmost blast took place 40 kilometres from the banks in Swedish waters where endangered porpoises breed.

The explosions themselves may have killed or destroyed the hearing of the endangered small whales that were close by. The report concluded that their population of just over 500 is so threatened that the loss of even one female could have major consequences.

“We are therefore also continuously monitoring and sharing the information with our neighbouring countries around the Baltic Sea, so that we have an overall picture of the consequences and can follow up as appropriate”, Heunicke added.

Investigations still ongoing

It’s not clear yet who was behind the explosion of the pipelines.

In a letter sent to the UN Security Council on 21 February, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany said their investigations were ongoing and have yet to be concluded without giving a specific timeline for their completion.

Initially accused of being responsible for the attack, Moscow has denied any involvement in the case and has requested – with the backing of China – an “independent” investigation.

Earlier this month, Washington also refuted a blog post by US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh alleging that the US was behind the sabotage as “utterly false”.

(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com – Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos)