The paper presents a historical analysis of the coal industry in Kuzbass and its impact on the gradual increase of environmental problems associated with the untimely reclamation of land around the mining towns and settlements. The authors stress the fact that numerous slag-heaps (terricones) have always been an essential attribute of all Kuzbass mining cities. In the 1930s, the state power and the party authorities paid little attention to the issues of conservation and environmental standards. Nowadays, slagheaps can be found within city boundaries, and local people see them as essential elements of urban landscape. According to the residents of the village of Sibir in Kuzbass and the town of Dimitrov in Donetsk, the growth of mining wastes has often led to fires, which resulted in carbon monoxide poisoning, loss of housing, etc. The numerous requests of people to resettle them were rejected by the mine management, who referred to housing shortage. The authors focus on the tragedy that occurred in the evening of June 15, 1954, when the residents of Sibir were at home. As a result of a rain-induced slag-heap explosion, many people were killed and badly burned. However, it was in the late 1960s that special organizations appeared to prevent such incidents, and various forms of reclamation became widespread. If the right conclusions had been drawn from the investigation of the tragic events of 1954, these measures could have started 10 years earlier.
coal mining, land reclamation, mining towns, infrastructure, slag-heaps (terricones), environmental safety
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