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'Black' snow blights Russian towns

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By Mark Armstrong
'Black' snow blights Russian towns

Residents living in the Kemerovo region of Siberia, an area known as Russia's coal basin, say that pollution from the industry is getting worse.

'Black' snow, a result of coal dust, can be seen towns like Prokopyevsk. Locals blame the problem on the nearby coal enrichment plant.

The region is one of the world's richest in coal deposition and one of Russia's largest industrial complexes.

Much of it was developed during the Soviet era with little or no concern for the environment.

"We have inherited a difficult ecological situation from the previous times," explained Kemerovo Governor, Sergei Tsivilev. "Open-pit coal mines have moved to the cities. A number of coal factories have already signed an agreement that they will pay to rehouse those citizens who live in the sanitary-protection zone."

After a brief fall in the 1990s, coal output in the region started to rise again and is now higher than ever. Another contributing factor is that the cheap carbon fuel means that it's by far the most popular way to heat homes.