Lipetsk: the least polluted steelmaking city

Lipetsk has been officially recognised as the least polluted region capital in Russia’s Central Black Earth economic area; and number one on the list of environmentally friendly Russian cities with steelmaking as the mainstay of the economy.

Experts believe that the record low IAPI level in Lipetsk is largely due to the successful and ongoing efforts to reduce Novolipetsk’s environmental impact as part of the Group’s Environmental Programme 2020.

In 2014, Lipetsk was ranked among cities with low levels of air pollution by the Voeikov Main Geophysical Observatory, the research centre of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring which measures the integrated air pollution index (IAPI). Lipetsk was thus officially recognised as one of the least polluted cities in Russia’s Central Black Earth economic region.

The Integrated Air Pollution Index (IAPI) was developed and is measured by the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet); and is used by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment to assess the level of air pollution in Russian cities. The index is based on average annual concentrations, measuring chronic, long-term air pollution.

IAPI is calculated by measuring levels of important region-specific air pollutants, taking into account the degree of hazard. For Lipetsk, this includes concentrations of dust, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, phenol and formaldehyde.

In 2014, the integrated air pollution index in Lipetsk fell to 3.4, two thirds of the figure recorded in 2013 (5.1) and an all-time low since measurements began in 1991 (33.9).

IAPI groups cities into four categories:

Low levels of air pollution (below 5)
Above-moderate levels of air pollution (between 5 and 7)
High levels of air pollution (between 8 and 14)
Very high levels of air pollution (above 14)

Chart: Integrated Air Pollution Index (IAPI) in Lipetsk

Source: Lipetsk Centre for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring

Lipetsk has thus been officially recognised as the least polluted region capital in Russia’s Central Black Earth economic area and the most environmentally friendly Russian steelmaking city, outstripping Cherepovets (3.9), Nizhny Tagil (7), Magnitogorsk (13) and Novokuznetsk (17), which are also home to major steelmaking companies.

The only steelmaking city in the low air pollution category is Gubkin in Belgorod Region, where Lebedinsky GOK is located. In our neighbouring regions the situation with air pollution is more severe: the index is 3.7 in Belgorod, 4.2 in Bryansk, 4.4 in Kursk, 4.8 in Tambov, 4.9 in Oryol and 8.0 in Voronezh.

Experts believe that the record low IAPI level in Lipetsk is largely due to the successful and ongoing efforts to reduce Novolipetsk’s environmental impact as part of the Group’s Environmental Programme 2020. The company has invested around 25 billion rubles in environmental improvements since 2000, almost halving the emission rate and coming very close to the levels of best available technology.

Chart: Concentration of air pollutants in Moscow and Lipetsk compared to MAC, 2014*

*Source: Кeports by Roshydromet’s Central Administration in Moscow and Moscow Region; and Roshydromet’s Lipetsk branch. MAC – maximum allowable concentration.

● In 2009, the Lipetsk site, which accounts for 80% of NLMK Group’s output, introduced a closed loop water system and completely stopped discharges into water bodies.

● In 2014, Novolipetsk began hot testing of a new unique biological waste water treatment system for coke plant waste water which is reused in a closed loop water system. The new treatment system helped provide a twenty-fold increase in water treatment efficiency.

The plant undertook a set of environmental projects in 2014 which helped not only diminish the impact of growing production but also reduce the emission levels. Emissions decreased by 68 tonnes from the previous year, while off-gas purification in the treatment facilities reached a new high of 98.7%. Novolipetsk was able to reduce emission rates at a time when production volumes were on the up: the Lipetsk site’s steel output rose by 1.3% in 2014, reaching 12.56 million tonnes, an all-time high in the company’s eighty-year history.

In 2015, the IAPI figures will be affected by NLMK’s new environmental projects and those completed by the end of 2014. These include a new blast furnace slag recycling facility to help minimise hydrogen sulphide emissions, while an upgrade of a dust suppression system in the open-air section of the bulk material storage facility used by the refractory shop will reduce limestone dust by 72 tonnes a year. The company also plans to further improve the quality of reused water and to reduce air emissions with the help of an innovative waste water treatment system at the coke plant.