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Gas stations blossom in the democratic environment

Yu. Babinin, Nikopol
In Nikopol that enters the first ten in the list of Soviet towns having the biggest index of atmosphere pollution, the real people’s war began against the building of a gas station of the well-known Dnepropetrovsk company ‘Avias’ in the center of the town.

The building of the gas station was begun at the place where, according to the general plan, the construction of the town cultural center had to be built, in the residential zone, in 80 meters from the nearest apartment-houses.

The constructional works were suspended owing to the protests of inhabitants (more than a thousand signatures were collected) and appeals of the union ‘Citizen’s surveillance’ to the regional environment protection prosecutor’s office concerning the non-authorized cutting of the trees.

The state administration had to appoint the public hearing of this case on 20 August, and previously to consider variants of behavior at the sittings of public commission of strategic planning of the town development. Three sitting of this commission were held and they brought a triumphal victory of the public over the representatives of the gas company and their supporters in the local administration.

In this respect the active preparations were held to win the public hearing. All the needed documents, justifications and accommodations were completed and approved. In the newspaper of the town council the campaign was started against the ’incompetent environment protectors’, who only protect the right of inhabitants of the near blocks for the safe environment, the state of which, by the toxic-mutational indexes, reached the catastrophic state. Together with the town inhabitants we proposed the local authorities to place the gas station outside the town, but they stubbornly support the will of ‘Avias’ to build its gas station in the center.

The placement of the gas station near the blocks of flats has not only the chemical aspect. The noise pollution of the environment and the psychological effect of the gas station as ‘the object of high danger’ will appear as well.

It is known that during the storage and transportation of gas about 5% of it is lost only due to evaporation; as much is lost by leakage, including that from underground tanks. If the gas is ethylled, then, knowing the capacity of a gas station, it is possible to estimate the degree of the tetraethylplumbum pollution.

The public hearing resulted in the victory of common sense and the triumph of Nikopol dwellers.

Participants of the hearing unanimously protested against the construction of the dangerous object in the center of the town and against the local authorities making ecologically important decisions without discussing it with members of the territorial community.

Deputies of the town council presenting at the hearing assured the townspeople that their opinion would be presented at the nearest session of the town council, which would have to reconsider the previously taken decision about giving to ‘Avias’ the land for building the gas station.

The active support to the Nikopol inhabitants was given by ecological organizations of Ukraine and Russia, which responded to the message, sent to the Internet by the union ‘Citizen’s surveillance’, about construction of the gas station in the center of Nikopol. Using the information obtained from various NGOs the union ‘Citizen’s surveillance’ compiled and spread during the hearing leaflets about the influence of gas stations on the environment.

During the hearing deputies of the local council assured citizens that the will of the people is sacred for them, and that the decision taken before would be cancelled.

But all happened in the other way. The deputies did not fulfill their promises. The local newspaper ‘Reporter’ wrote that at the session of the Nikopol town council, which took place on 26 August, ‘the first question considered was the scandalous question about the construction of the gas station on the waste land near the building of the town executive committee’. And if the members of the hearings and inhabitants of the near streets, who collected thousands of signatures under the protest against the gas station, hoped that they convinced somebody, they made a mistake. The deputies did not cancel their decision about the construction of the gas station – there were not enough votes.

17 deputies voted against the gas station, 9 abstained.

Among seven deputies who voted ‘for’ were: mayor of the town Sergey Starun, secretary of the town council Vasiliy Zabegaylo, ex-deputy of the mayor Sergey Kondratov (who was a curator of this building), head of the local house committee Anatoliy Radivilov, secretary of the ecology commission of the town council Petr Pankeev and several their supporters.

It is clear that all above-listed officials have some interest in the permission of the building of the gas station.

But this history has not finished yet. Understanding the local community will actively resist such a decision (the initiative group for the distrust to the mayor was created in the town), mayor S. Starun, who voted for the construction, suspended it. The session created the temporary deputies’ commission, which has to consider the problem in details and to prepare a decision.

So, the fight for the fresh air in Nikopol continues.

On 21 September, in the framework of the world day of freedom from automobiles, the bicycle race near the building of the town executive committee will be held in Nikopol, with demands from the authorities to live according to the principle ‘town for people and bicycles, not for gas stations’.

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