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The contamination of the world's largest freshwater lake by the Baikal
The contamination of the world's largest freshwater lake by the Baikal pulp mill will cost Russia 2 billion rubles ($80 million) per month, the country's environmental watchdog said on Thursday.

Russia's environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor imposed in early December 2007 a five-day ban on the dumping of waste into Lake Baikal from the mill, and filed a lawsuit against the company for damages of over 475 million rubles ($19 million). The watchdog eventually raised the size of the suit to 4 billion rubles ($163 million).

"The 4 billion ruble lawsuit, which was filed earlier, will be adjusted. On average, this contamination will cost Russia 2 billion rubles per month," Rosprirodnadzor deputy head Oleg Mitvol said.

Mitvol said the regulator will carry out a new assessment of the damage from the mill's operation up to February 15, and that a court hearing on the $164 million lawsuit against the Baikal pulp mill was scheduled for February 20.

At a Security Council meeting held on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin announced new findings on the deteriorating environmental situation in the country, saying that between 35% and 60% of drinkable water in some Russian regions fails to meet sanitary standards.

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who chairs the board of gas giant Gazprom and is seen as Putin's likely successor, urged for sanctions to be toughened against companies that pollute the environment.


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