The article examines the history of industrial construction near Lake Baikal, emphasizing the key role played by Soviet engineers in the 1950s and 1960s. It compares the existing historiography, arguing that the famous ecological controversy cannot be understood solely as a tension between the state and a civil society driven by scientists and writers. It involved other actors, in particular engineers who acknowledged the problem of pollution and tried to improve industrial processes with this in mind. For instance, the Institute of Pulp and Paper Manufacturing in Leningrad worked on wastewater treatment biotechnology to improve both industrial production and nature protection. The failure of this technology lay not in the engineers' hostility to nature, but in technical supply problems, lack of specialists, and poor coordination between institutions.