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World's largest sawdust dump is on fire 'and will burn for years'

By 0 and 0 and 0
25 July 2016


A satellite photo taken in June 2016. Picture: LandSat, Greenpeace

The mountain of sawdust is the size of more than 800 Olympic swimming pools at a site in the Ust-Kutsky district of Irkutsk region. A council spokesman said: 'It is now impossible to extinguish dump with such an amount of sawdust. 

'Obviously, it will keep burning for a few more years.'

It has remained aflame winter and summer for around three years - and is seen on the video below. 

Greenpeace say the sawdust dump is the largest of its kind in the world, and the campaign group has raised concerns over the smoke pollution from the site. 

Already there is more than two million cubic metres of waste dumped here, reported to be waste from the Trans-Siberian Forest Company. Every day 15 new trucks arrive, each carrying around 70 cubic metres of sawdust. 

The site of the endless fire is 10.4 hectares in size or 1.1 million square feet. 

World's largest sawdust dump is on fire 'and will burn for years'

The company has taken measures to prevent the spread of the  smoldering flames, with a mineral border line around the dump and  firefighting equipment on permanent standby.

Alexander Yaroshenko, head of the Forestry Programme of Greenpeace Russia, said:'Over the past three years this fire has caused dangerous smoke to Ust-Kut and nearby settlements multiple times, with overall population of about 50,000 people.

'That is an emergency situation of at least regional scale.' 

Measurements taken by state watchdog Rospotrebnadzor show that the dump fire did not cause changes to concentration of carbon dioxide in the air near the dump on days when Ust-Kut was covered with smoke, say reports. 

The area has been hit recently by wildfire smoke, too. 

Pictures show the sawdust dump in Ust-Kut region now and in winter 2016, satellite picture taken in February this year. Pictures: Irkutsk Region Ministry for Emergencies, LandSat/Greenpeace

World's largest sawdust dump is on fire 'and will burn for years'

World's largest sawdust dump is on fire 'and will burn for years'

Comments (7)

We have been using saw dust as fuel in specially designed oven to cook food. Why is it wasted and not used as a source of energy and making synthetic wood on large scale?
Meera Khan, Peshaw, Pkistan.
08/09/2016 12:20
Around here, we also use sawdust to feed our Moms when we are let out of the basement
Norm Gruntfuddock, New Hampshire, USA
09/08/2016 22:16
Around here, we use sawdust to make wood pellets to heat our homes and businesses. Just sayin...........
Norm, New Hampshire, USA
27/07/2016 04:54
I don't know if this is a big deal. How many more acres of woodland burn every year due to lightning strikes? I would admittedly not want to live downwind of a smoldering pile of sawdust, but I can't image this to be a catastrophe.
Jason, United States of America
26/07/2016 23:58
Sartoris thanks, but for what kind of use? joinery, posts and frame, plywood or other? because the amount of sawdust produced is impressive.
Jocelyne, France
26/07/2016 14:46
In answer to the inquiry of where the sawdust comes from: the sawdust comes from wood.
Sartoris, America
26/07/2016 09:32
where do these sawdust come from? it is organic and could be used to make compost perhaps? Please, how exploitation of siberian forests being done? Leave it to you a few mature trees, or large plots with mature trees to produce seeds and limit erosion and flooding? Thanks
Jocelyne, FRANCE
25/07/2016 21:50

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