Authorities in Russia’s Far East are warning people to avoid beaches on the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula after a mass die-off of marine life.
Videos of the mass die-off appeared on social media on October 2, showing dead seals, fish, and other marine creatures littering at least three beaches on the Avacha Bay.
Surfers reported eye and skin irritation following contact with the water.
Activists believe the die-off was caused by a release of petroleum products.
Acting Natural Resources Minister Aleksei Kumarkov said that after checking water samples, experts found an excess of oil products, phenol, and other substances, according to the Russian branch of the Greenpeace environmental group.
"The extent of the pollution has not yet been determined, but the fact that dead animals are found all over the coast confirms the seriousness of the situation," Greenpeace said in a press release on October 2.
The organization said many people who have been in contact with water also show symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, high fever, which may indicate phenol poisoning.
Officials said the results of an analysis of water samples would be available on October 5.
Greenpeace called the incident “an ecological catastrophe” and urged the Natural Resources Ministry, the Defense Ministry, and the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate the incident and undertake a clean-up.
The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement on October 3 saying the Pacific Fleet played no role in the incident.