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Concentrations of harmful metals have lowered in Talvivaara waters, but in places remain harmful to aquatic organisms

Press release 2012-11-19 at 10:00

During the past week, concentrations of hazardous substances in the River Lumijoki, and the Salmisenpuro streamlet in the immediate vicinity of Talvivaara, have become considerably lower, but still remain at levels harmful to aquatic organisms. In Lake Kivijärvi, concentrations of hazardous substances have increased in the hypolimnion, but in Lake Kalliojärvi concentrations have subsided. At this stage, the environmental impacts of hazardous substances are limited to nearby waters. In the main, the situation has progressed in line with previous predictions.

In both the River Lumijoki, running south from the mine area, and Salmisenpuro, which runs north, concentrations of nickel, cadmium, uranium, aluminium and zinc have reduced during the week, depending on the substance, down to as little as one tenth of the previous levels. However, concentrations remain high in these waters, exceeding the levels harmful to organisms.

Development of Lake Kivijärvi’s status requires monitoring

Lake Kivijärvi to the south, and Lake Kalliojärvi to the north, have very different characteristics. This has led them to react in different ways to the waste water discharges. In Lake Kivijärvi, the emissions have drifted into the hypolimnion, the lowermost, non-circulating layer of cold water in the lake, and, contrary to previous predictions, have remained in place for now. This is the reason for local concentrations being higher than before, whereas in Lake Kalliojärvi, concentrations of hazardous substances were at their highest between the 14th and 15th of November and have since decreased.

At present, it is not possible to give a precise estimate of what will happen to the hazardous substances in Lake Kivijärvi. The future aim will be to identify the extent to which the substances find their way downstream. Last weekend’s measurements showed no signs of any significant advection of hazardous substances into Lake Laakajärvi.

Lower possibility of fish deaths

According to reports from the area, some single occurrences of dead fish have been observed in the River Lumijoki, and the river flowing out of Kalliojärvi. In Lake Kivijärvi, wastewater emissions have sunk into the hypolimnion because the contaminated water has been considerably heavier than the lake water. The possibility of fish mortality has therefore fallen in Lake Kivijärvi, as it has in Lake Kalliojärvi.

The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Kainuu and Talvivaara Plc responsible for taking samples

Due to the wastewater emission, both the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Kainuu (ELY Centre for Kainuu) and Talvivaara are enhancing sample taking. The ELY Centre for Kainuu will also be taking samples and conducting flow measurements, in waters in the vicinity of the discharge, this week. Water samples will be taken from rivers to the south and north, and ice conditions permitting, from nearby lakes as well. The ELY Centre for Kainuu has two sampling teams at its disposal. Most samples will be analysed by SYKE laboratory.

Further information

Seppo Rekolainen, DIrector of the Freshwater Centre
Finnish Environment Institute SYKE
Tel. +358 40 5806 538

Jaakko Mannio, Senior Researcher
Finnish Environment Institute SYKE
Tel. +358 400 148 604 

Kirsi Norros, Communications Director
Finnish Environment Institute SYKE
Tel. 040 740 1693

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