Enviros gear up for international battle over Siberian oil pipeline

Russia’s 2,565-mile, $15.5 billion trans-Siberian oil pipeline — currently under construction — is at the center of a major emerging international environmental brouhaha. At issue is the Pacific terminal site. Recently, the terminus was abruptly moved from Vostochny, Russia’s main Pacific industrial port, to Perevoznaya, a pristine bay and popular tourist destination that is home to some of the world’s last Amur leopards. The bay can only be reached through a narrow channel that is home to Russia’s sole maritime nature reserve, a collection of 11 islands valued for their rich biodiversity. The area is home to strong currents that enviros say could carry an oil spill quickly over large distances. Russian and international environmental organizations are mounting an international outcry, which poses an awkward problem for Japan, as it is financing 80 percent of the pricey project but would prefer to present a green image on the global stage.