Energy, Estonia, EU – Baltic States, Gas

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 01.06.2020, 04:46

Baltic States largest oil shale ash hill burns inside

Juhan Tere, BC, Tallinn, 31.07.2012.Print version
The first signs that the inside of the Kohtla-Järve semi-coke hill is on fire were evident last winter but this spring, the first fire crater emerged on the Baltic states largest ash hill and now there are two sources of fire, LETA/Postimees writes.

There is no universal solution to extinguish such a fire. The 186 metres high hill that accommodated 100 million cubic metres of spent oil shale has a fire inside that manifests itself in the form of a couple of openings that emit sulphur smell and smoke. There are also a few deep holes in the hill where flames can occasionally be seen.


All that makes construction firms Merko and Rand&Tuulberg, which are working on closing down the hill with EU support, very worried.


Although the fire started months ago, the environment ministry has not informed the public of it. Local residents and the construction companies admitted the problem yesterday.


One of Rand&Tuulberg's owners Aivar Tuulberg said that the edge of one fire crater measured 980 degrees of temperature recently. "We don't now what is happening under the ground, but it is clear that the ground is on fire," he said, adding that the company won't send equipment to these places since the excavator can sink in.


Tuulberg said that the companies have operated according a project presented to them by the state and they consider the fire force majeure while the state seems to think they have to take care of it.


The nearby Viru Keemia Grupp chemical plants board member Meelis Eldermann said that flow of oxygen to the mountain should be stopped but that is very complicated work. He said that geological studies were conducted on the hill before the work to close the hill down was started and the possibility of the fire should have been foreseen.


Eldermann estimated that it is unlikely that the whole set of ash hills in the region would catch fire.


Environment ministry PR department said that the minister is aware of the fire and studies are under way.

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