Nord Stream AG submitted their annual report on environmental monitoring along the Russian section of the offshore pipeline to the respective Russian Environmental Authorities. The results of the monitoring activities conducted throughout 2011 show that Nord Stream's mitigation measures for the various construction activities have proven to be successful. In line with the findings of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) Nord Stream's activities resulted in only minor impact with short duration. All set limits were adhered to and there was no tangible impact.
The report is based on the results of monitoring conducted in parallel to Nord Stream's construction activities in three major areas: in the Russian waters of the Gulf of Finland, in Portovaya Bay and on the 1.5 kilometres of the dry section on the Russian shore near Vyborg. Data were collected from over 70 onshore and 21 fixed offshore water monitoring stations, 9 netting and 4 trawl stations in Portovaya Bay and 10 stations of higher aquatic plants and macroalgae (macrophytes) monitoring. Apart from that, satellite monitoring data were used to monitor turbidity.
Environmental studies stipulated by the Russian monitoring programme cover a wide spectrum of parameters, such as air, noise, soil, water, sea flora and fauna and seabed sediments. According to the results of the studies, none of the assessed parameters showed negative impacts from the construction activities. In the majority of samples, the measured parameters were below the assessed levels and set threshold values. In very few cases certain parameters had already exceeded limits before the start of the construction activities and are assessed to have been caused by natural processes and anthropogenic factors.
Nord Stream's 2011 annual report on environmental monitoring in Russia has received a positive assessment by the Russian authorities. Mr. Nuritdin Inamov, the Director of International Cooperation Department of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment noted: "Russian and foreign experts note high professional competence of Nord Stream's experts, who perform their activities in strict compliance with the schedule, profound analysis of monitoring data and consistency of these data. It is important that the results obtained comply with forecasts, and some values are even better than the forecast".
Onshore monitoring covers numerous parameters, such as air, soil, flora and fauna, surface waters and noise. Evaluation of the monitoring data has revealed no negative changes in the parameters.
Noise emissions were investigated to determine whether the construction activities induced any impact on the surroundings areas. The sampling showed that noise levels never exceeded the normative threshold of 55 dBA and were mostly between 41 and 43 dBA.
Laboratory testing results of air sampling at the construction site and adjacent areas showed that the maximum single concentration of pollutants (particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons) was typically lower than the maximum permissible concentration (MPC).
Similarly, careful monitoring of offshore activities in 2011 confirmed Nord Stream's construction activities to be in full compliance with environmental and water regulations.
The results of the water sampling in Portovaya Bay show that concentration values of most pollutants did not exceed the maximum permissible concentration (MPC), and the concentration of most metals in the Bay waters was lower than the MPC.
There was a major focus on monitoring the water parameters in Portovaya Bay in the context of the pressure test water release after pre-commissioning of Line 1. The results of the monitoring show that the impact of pressure testing on Portovaya Bay was insignificant and short-term. No water pollution associated with the pressure tests was detected. Changes in the bay water parameters were minimal and largely due to the contribution of natural phenomena (wind, currents, local sea temperature fluctuations, natural surface water discharge).
Monitoring of marine ecosystems shows that construction of the deep water part of the pipeline had only minor effects on migrating birds in the open area of the Gulf of Finland. This area is not used by most birds for feeding purposes due to its significant depths. There were 62 species of birds monitored in 2011. Compared to 2010, monitoring results reported eight more bird species.
Data collected in 2011 show an increase in the diversity of fish species compared to 2010. Also, plankton surveys have found spawning and nursery grounds for juvenile coastal species and herring in Portovaya Bay. This positive development is expected to continue as the installed gravel berms provide for an excellent habitat for spawning.
In addition to onshore and offshore monitoring, satellite monitoring was carried out in order to assess the potential impact resulting from sediment re-suspension caused by the pipeline construction activities in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland. Satellite monitoring of this area in 2011 confirmed the results of similar investigations in 2010. According to the information obtained from satellite images, the pipeline construction had no visible impact and all values were below permissible levels.
Natural fields of suspended sediments in the Gulf of Finland may have much bigger scales and intensity than any construction-induced observation. Turbidity caused by construction was up to 100 times lower than turbidity levels resulting from natural causes. No transboundary impact from construction of the Russian section of the pipeline on Finnish waters and coastal areas was detected.
The Russian environmental monitoring programme was developed pursuant to the Russian environmental law and the national permit requirements issued for the construction of the Nord Stream pipelines. Monitoring activities include surveys of the physical, chemical and biological environment.
For the entire length of the Nord Stream route more than 20 companies were contracted to conduct environmental and social monitoring in compliance with the various monitoring programmes. In 2010 and 2011 Nord Stream invested 20 million euros in the programme. A total of 40 million euros will be invested between 2010 and 2016. Data covering 16 parameters is collected from approximately 1,000 survey locations along the route, analyzed in internationally recognised laboratories, and the results are reported to the national environmental authorities in each country.