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Russian Environmentalists Approved Pipeline Construction

Russia's environmental watchdog approved a controversial pipeline

Russia?s environmental watchdog said on Monday it had approved a pipeline constructionin Siberia.

The pipeline will link oilfields in Siberia to Asian markets, but, according to Greenpeace, could damage the world?s deepest lake Baikal.

The expert commission gathered by the Rostekhnadzor watchdog previously rejected the plan, but approved it after agency head Konstantin Pulikovsky added new scientists to the commission and gave it more time for consideration.

?Yes, Pulikovsky has signed a positive assessment. He signed it on March 3,? said spokesman Alexander Afonin.

The pipeline will cost $11 billion and will pump as much as 1.6 million barrel per day to China and the Pacific coast. It has been bitterly opposed by scientists who say an oil spill could wipe out dozens of Baikal?s endemic species.

Baikal, which is home to a unique species of freshwater seal, is sited in a highly earthquake-prone zone, and many experts say the pipeline should be moved away from the lake since no safety equipment can stop a quake rupturing it.