Throughout the lifecycle of the Sakhalin-2 project, Sakhalin Energy has been very conscientious about environmental protection, including the protection of tangible cultural heritage. The concept of "tangible cultural heritage" has to do with the historical past and is embodied in objects and items of material culture.
Some examples of such items on the island are:
• archaeological monuments (nomadic camps, settlements, and artefacts),
• architectural monuments (buildings and structures),
• religious sites, including grave fields (cemeteries) and burial grounds,
• works of art,
• places of interest (historical landscapes, cultural landmarks),
• objects and items that have museum-worthy status or are of historical, scientific, and/or memorial value.
Sakhalin Island has a very rich historical past. This was confirmed by numerous archaeological finds made by the scientific community during the pre-construction phase of the Sakhalin-2 project, when 68 cultural heritage items were identified in the immediate vicinity of the construction sites. These are historical and cultural monuments of varying degrees of preservation and antiquity, ranging from the early Palaeolithic to recent history. Among them are ancient camps and settlements, ethnographic sites, military camps and battle sites of two wars (1905 and 1945), Japanese architectural monuments, and historical monuments, both from the Japanese governorship of Karafuto (1905 to 1945) and from the Russian post-war period.
The Sennaya-1 multilayer site was discovered in 1998 in the course of surveying for the future pipeline route. Remarkably, this site turned out to be the earliest geoarchaeological feature within not only Sakhalin Oblast but the entire Russian Far East. Based on a body of research, the age of the finds was determined to be between 230,000 and 140,000 years old. A study of the stonework techniques used has attributed the site to the pebble industries of the Lower Palaeolithic. This truly sensational discovery literally overturned the then-common ideas about when the original settlement of the island had taken place, giving a powerful impetus to further research.
During the construction phase, the protection of cultural heritage was given at least as much attention. The focus areas are as follows:
• reconnaissance surveys in locations proposed for pipeline re-routing and land acquisition,
• identification of protected areas and continuous monitoring,
• mitigation of adverse effects on archaeological features during excavation works,
• monitoring construction progress in culturally sensitive areas,
• training construction contractors' staff in compliance with cultural heritage protection rules,
• compliance with internal plans and procedures governing cultural heritage items,
• salvage excavations.
Regular archaeological monitoring activities are carried out during the operation phase of the Sakhalin-2 project.