The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has given the go-ahead for a controversial paper-mill on the shores of Lake Baikal to start production again, despite decades of complaints about pollution.
Its effluent enraged environmentalists and led to the Soviet-era plant being shut down in 2008.
The environmental group Greenpeace called it an ‘ecologically dangerous enterprise’ that has no place on the shores of a lake with a wealth of bio-diversity.
But with 2,000 staff the plant is the local town’s biggest employer, and bosses say virtually every family is affected by the closure.
Baikal is the biggest freshwater lake in the world, and is home to 1,500 species of flora and fauna, including a unique freshwater seal.
But Putin said he has been assured by scientists that the paper mill poses no threat, so the plant is expected to start production again this year.
Greenpeace called it a ‘sacred lake’ and wants President Medvedev to overturn Putin’s decision.