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4500 trucks removed garbage from the Obvodny Canal


The river cleaning season is drawing to a close. In the summer, both the Fontanka river and the Obvodny Canal had been made deeper by digging machines. The latter, by the way, saw 4500 trucks worth of garbage removed from it. In 2 centuries, this waterway has got considerably littered. Cleaning works are expected to be fully completed by 2015.


That’s when both the Volkovka and the Smolenka rivers will also be completely cleaned. A little over a month remains until the crucial segment of the Obvodny Canal would be cleaned out – the one from the Borovoy Bridge. Mariya Marchenko found out what’s already been done and what is yet to come.

They proudly call themselves “the river janitors”, but when they display those “treasures” found in the water they look more like pirates. 

Roman Tyurin, head mechanic on shift: “There are plenty of goods. Kitchenware, a cigar case with a lighter”

A bucket of green-turned coins, inkpots, german paint – the captain of this squad, or dredge master, keeps all valuables on the “Papillon”. The rusty boat received this tender name when it was decorated with a wooden butterfly. It was found in the Smolenka river. Steel carcasses and wooden logs are usually found in the Obvodny Canal, but there have been exceptions too. 

Mariya Marchenko, correspondent: “Surprising things could be found in the Obvodny Canal. Back in the days there used to be old anchors and coach wheels, nowadays it is mostly appliances  - TV sets, computers, there was even a washing machine found recently”. 

Digging machines thoroughly comb the soil – steadily and methodically. Their buckets draw out the ooze. Then comes the sorting procedure. Metals to one side, wood to the other. It seems that a float boat sunk under the Novo-Kamenny Bridge in the Soviet times. 

The excavator could not handle what had sunk under a neighboring crossing. Having stumbled upon two plates of concrete, the machine broke down. It’s been standing still ever since. The several-ton constructions of steel had to be fragmented underwater and brought to the surface in bits. It took several months and 10 million rubles. So now they’re forced to work on an emergency schedule. 

This hopper is not filled with fish, but with garbage. The trailer with a romantic name “The Rebellious” is towing it to a dump at the Krasnaya river. That’s where the garbage is piled up, not utilized. During this year alone, the pile has grown by 45 thousand cubic meters. Head of “Lenvodkhoz” says a considerable amount of garbage spilt into the Canal after renovation works at the riverside and at the Amerikanskie Bridges. 

Vyacheslav Shvedov. Deputy head of “Lenvodkhoz”: “Construction is being carried out without our consent. Before, we use to take part in commissioning of sites, introduced technical conditions at blueprinting, so that all the garbage could have been removed afterwards”

No-one has been found responsible for that. These law-breakers operate at night, when nobody sees them. Dug in 1780, the Obvodny Canal was meant to protect St. Petersburg from flooding. Later it became one of the major waterways. However, in 2 centuries its bed has become considerably shallow. There have been talks of back-piling it. But instead, the authorities decided to conduct a major clean-up – the first in history. 

Alexey Petrov, deputy chairman of environmental committee: “The projected depth is 2.75 meters. This will allow small vessels pass through it, and even launch water transport routes through it. 

Thie city’s longest canal has been cleaned for three years already, 7 of 9 kilometers have been cleaned. The cleaners will reach its head in 2015, that’s what they’re planning at least. After which the “Papillon” will set course towards the Moyka river. Dredge masters jokingly anticipate working in the aristocratic quarters – there may be even more valuable goodies there. 

Correspondent: Mariya Marchenko

Cameraman: Alexander Zhuravlev