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Russia Dumps Olympics Construction Waste, Breaks ‘Cleanest Games’ Pledge

sochiRussia has been dumping waste from construction projects associated with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, breaking a zero waste pledge the country made as a central pillar of its Olympic bid, reports the Associated Press.

Russia’s bid promised “the cleanest games ever,” pledging to refrain from dumping construction waste and to focus on using reusable materials.

On a visit last week to Akhshtyr, just north of Sochi, the AP found that state-owned Russian Railways is dumping “tons of construction waste” into a landfill described by authorities as illegal, the news service reports.

Russia’s $51 billion budget for the Olympics contains no provisions for the correct handling of construction waste, according to the AP.

In a letter obtained by the AP, the local environmental protection agency told the Akhshtyr council that it had inspected the landfill and found waste and soil from Russian Railways’ Sochi project. The agency fined the railway $3,000 for the violation. The project — a 30 mile highway and railroad link between the airport and mountain venues — is set to cost billions of dollars to build.

The major concern from the landfill is the effect it will have on the local water supply.

The unlicensed landfill is operated within an area where dumping of soil and construction waste is banned under the Russian Water Code. The landfill is surrounded by porous karst rock that can wick moisture from the landfill into the nearby Mzymta River, which provides up to half of Sochi’s water supply, the news service reports.

Sochi’s water supply could be contaminated for the next 10 to 15 years, according to Vladimir Kimaev, a member of the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, the news service reports.

Earlier this month, Sweden’s Presona AB announced that it will provide seven baling systems to handle the waste generated during the Sochi games. The equipment will be delivered to five cities in the Krasnodar region, where the public waste management companies will run the baling plants.

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