Townspeople protesting a toxic landfill near Moscow have been handed out gas masks as officials bucked demands to declare a state of emergency.
The head of the Volokolamsk district pledged to declare an emergency after hundreds of residents flocked to the streets late on Thursday demanding the closure of the foul-smelling garbage dump. The protests, which began en masse late last month, reignited after scores of schoolchildren were reportedly poisoned by toxic gases from the Yadrovo landfill last week.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said it has gone into “high alert” mode, Interfax cited regional ministry officials as saying Friday, stipulating restrictions to dumping new trash into the landfill, air quality measurements and informing the public of new developments.
A local official was cited as saying that the concentration of hydrogen sulfide gases exceeded the norm by 12 times, the Meduza news website reported on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Thursday that there was no excess gas in the area, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
“We’re not yet talking about declaring a state of emergency,” an unnamed official was cited by Interfax as saying.
He added that the ministry had distributed gas masks and respirators to Volokolamsk residents.
The ministry official later explained that “the conditions have not been met” to declare a state of emergency over the noxious gases.
“Moreover, there are no conditions to massively evacuate residents into sanatoriums or wherever else,” the official told Interfax.