Black snow falls in Siberia

A coal mining region has been blanketed in inky flakes

Helen Coffey
Monday 18 February 2019 10:28
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Black snow falls in Siberia

Black snow has been spotted in a coal mining region in Russia.

The Kemerovo area in southwest Siberia has undergone a gothic makeover, with videos and photos shared on social media showing jet-black flakes transforming the landscape.

While the phenomenon may look eerily beautiful, it’s indicative of a coal mining industry that has very little in the way of regulation, according to environmental protesters.

“It’s harder to find white snow than black snow during the winter,” Vladimir Slivyak, a member of the Ecodefense environmental group, told The Guardian.

“There is a lot of coal dust in the air all the time. When snow falls, it just becomes visible. You can’t see it the rest of the year, but it is still there.”

There are multiple open coal pits in the Kuznetsk Basin, the epicentre of Russia’s coal industry, and activists claim the pollution from them is impacting on locals’ health and wellbeing.

Life expectancy is three-four years lower for the region’s 2.6 million inhabitants compared to the national average, while rates of cancer, TB meningitis and child cerebral palsy are also higher.

Snow 'painted white' in Russian coal-mining town

Deputy governor of the Kuznetsk Basin Andrei Panov has said the region’s black snow could originate from coal-burning factories, vehicles and unspecified businesses.

The latest black flurries follow an incident in December when officials in Kemorovo were accused of painting snow white to conceal soot and ash.

Footage shared by the Moscow Times showed a woman’s hands coated in white paint after she touched a snow bank outside a municipal recreation centre in Mysky.

The head of the town apologised and ordered the paint’s removal in response to public outcry.

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