Huge Energy Project on Russian Island Could Wreak Environmental Havoc

Conservationists are warning that plans to build the world’s largest energy project — a massive pipeline and three oil-drilling platforms on and around the Russian island of Sakhalin, just north of Japan — could mean environmental disaster. The project, led by a Shell subsidiary and expected to be completed in 2007, would run a pipeline underground through an earthquake-prone area, and the pipeline would crisscross rivers and streams on the island more than 1,000 times, endangering salmon breeding grounds and river and forest areas. Enviros are also warning that one platform already constructed is disturbing whales and other marine life. And it’s not only wildlife that are suffering: Local fishers, most from a tribe known as the Nivkhi, have been banned from practicing their trade because the government doesn’t want the oil platform disturbed.