The clean-up project of the Karosta Canal from its historical pollution is probably one of the biggest challenges to the Liepaja Special Economic Zone Authority. The Karosta Canal of the Port of Liepaja has long since been acknowledged as a severely polluted area (Filed by No 17004/5138 in the Register of Contaminated or Potentially Contaminated Sites). The Karosta Canal is a man-made structure, dating back to the early 20th century. From 1945 to 1991, the Karosta Canal was part of a closed military area of the Soviet Ministry of Defence, hosting the submarines of the Soviet Navy. Total territory of the Karosta Canal - 874 897 m2. The proposed clean-up site: 780 000 m2.
Activity of the naval base has left a significant impact on the territory, which HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – the Helsinki Commission) has determined as one of nine most polluted areas in the territory of the Republic of Latvia (“a hot spot” No 48, the City of Liepaja and the Port).
According to the research, which was carried out in 1992 and 1995, the major share of the pollution in the Karosta Canal was caused by the activity of the naval base of the Soviet Union. Judging by the previous research, c.a. 650 000 m3 of sludge and sediment in the Karosta Canal had been polluted with oil products and heavy metals (Hg, As, Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd, Se). The sediment thickness varied from 0.2 to 2.2 m, whereas, the average thickness of the contaminated sediments amounted up to c.a. 0.6 m. Execution of the project "Clean – up of the Historically Polluted Site at the Port of Liepaja Port Karosta Canal, 1st Phase" was commenced on 20 December 2014, when an agreement was signed with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia on the implementation of the EU Cohesion Fund project. The project was finalized on 30 December 2015. Currently, the Liepaja SEZ Authority is looking for funds in order to clean up the entire Karosta Canal area, so that to achieve its environmental protection goals.