Most New North Tallinn Housing 'at Risk' from Industrial Accidents ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: ERR

As one of Tallinn's up and coming neighborhoods continues to grow, it is running up against the hazards of being located so close to strategic freight yards and fuel terminals, experts have warned.

Põhja-Tallinn, a 19th century working-class district that has of late become something of a hotspot for artsy cafes and Bohemian life, is home to several ports and depots, such as the Kopli freight yard, which experts long warned could set off a catastrophic chain reaction.

Hazardous operations at the Kopli freight yard ended in 2008, but there are other hotspots. A risk analysis used for the comprehensive plan drafted by Tallinn for the district last year shows that in fact a majority of the district is in the hazard zone due to the activity of companies at the end of the Kopli peninsula, reported Eesti Päevaleht today.

BLRT, a shipyard that suffered a fatal acetylene explosion earlier this year, is at the center of the largest circle. It handles ammonium nitrate, among other materials, Eesti Päevaleht reported. A major accident there would have a critical radius of more than 1.5 kilometers. The comprehensive plan, according to the daily, estimates that 50 percent of people within the zone would die and 50 percent of buildings would be destroyed.

The city district is also currently engaged in various residential development projects, a number of them directly in the red circle. Development plans show that the city hopes to attract 48,000 new residents to the area as revitalization projects go forward.

Technically, reported the daily, no new residential developments should go up in the epicenter, such as those in the grittier Kopli neighborhood. "New houses should definitely not be built there," said Viljo Rannala, chief specialist at the Tallinn housing department. The "Kopli lines," a notorious slum area being razed piecemeal to make way for new projects including 527 flats and 38 single-family homes is entirely within that most critical area.

But legally, the city is not contradicting itself, as the area has been historically zoned as residential and thus does not come up for new review under the risk analysis.

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