Russia prepares to evacuate arctic research station as ice breaks up

May 28, 2013 at 4:38 PM
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MOSCOW, May 28 (UPI) -- Officials say an evacuation plan is being readied for Russia's North Pole 40 drifting research station because the ice floe it's located on is breaking up.

The impending breakup not only threatens the station and the 16 scientists working there but could also cause environmental pollution in the area near Canada where it is drifting, Russia's Natural Resources Ministry said in a statement.

An evacuation plan was in place and the nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal could reach the drifting polar station by June 10, Vladimir Sokolov, the head of Russia's high-latitude arctic expeditions, told RIA Novosti.

"The Yamal is scheduled to leave the port of Murmansk on May 31 ... and there are about 10 days of navigation to reach the station's location," he said.

The research station went into operation in October and was originally scheduled to work until September this year, Sokolov said, "but the station's ice floe is cleaved and it was decided to dismantle the station to prevent an emergency situation."

The amount of damage to the ice floe indicated the station had no chance of surviving through the summer, which is why a decision was made on the early evacuation, he said.

"There is currently no threat to people, but it is better to do it now than later in emergency mode," Sokolov said.

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