Monchegorsk was one of many "monotowns". Monogorod was the name for the hundreds of industrial cities built specifically around a mining and/or industrial project in Soviet Russia . This is then a case of the unacknowledged socio-environmental liabilities from a past era, that of central-planning industrialization in Russia. Its heritage is in many ways still present.
Today (as other “company towns” in the capitalist west), often the "monoowns" are slowly becoming ruins, their blocks of social housing undesired places for living. Sometimes, as in Monchegorsk, the old industry gives place to a similar, modernized industry under capitalism that will produce its own flows and stocks of waste .
According to  (Venovcevs (2019), Murmansk Oblast witnessed a great deal of this kind of industrialization and environmental degradation. “Between the 1930s and the 1970s Soviet authorities founded single-industry towns, most of which focused on extraction and processing of metals and minerals. These include Monchegorsk, Nikel, and Zapolyarny (nickel, copper, and cobalt); Olenegorsk and Kovdor (iron); Kirovsk, Titan, and Koashva (apatite); Revda (rare earth minerals); and Tumanny (hydroelectricity).
"Many of the industries surrounding these towns left a legacy of soil and water contamination. In fact, ten out of forty-two environmental hot spots listed by the Barents Euro-Arctic Council Working Group on the Environment are located in the Murmansk Region. Some of the worst purveyors of this pollution are the non-ferrous metal manufacturers in Monchegorsk, Nikel, and Zapolyarny” .
Eighty years ago, in 1939, the first tons of nickel were produced at the Severonickel complex from the mines and factory in the new town of Monchegorsk. This had been Sami territory. An industrial army of about 15,000 workers (about half of them gulag prisoners) worked there. With an influx of German prisoners after 1945 and other workers, the city reached 70,000 inhabitants in the 1970s. The industry was heavily polluting the environment, because the ores were sulphurous. . The plant started smelting more nickel and copper, including sulphur-heavy ores from Norilsk in Siberia.
Mining of ore stopped around Monchegorsk in 1998. The quality of ore was no longer good enough to justify the mining. However, the plant continues to process ores from other places like Zapolyarny in Kola Peninsula or Norilsk . The Soviet era left behind a large “ecological waste zone” of mine tailings and also of abandoned stone quarries, “sacrifice zones” .
Concrete buildings line the streets. As Venovcevs  puts it, “Monchegorsk is stuck. It is too heavy to reassemble and too present to abandoned. The industrial facilities at Severonickel is what built the town and the only thing that keeps it going long after the transition away from a planned economy. As the main employer in town, Severonickel has extensive power over the daily lives of its people.” People of Monchegorsk cannot walk away from the town because it provides them with shelter and jobs. Nor can they unbuilt it because it is too big and heavy. It is still functional and thus accepted. "Monchegorsk is a Soviet town in a post-Soviet world. It looks Soviet, its buildings are Soviet, its statues are Soviet, and even its streets are Soviet. The Soviet era never ended but rather latched on into the capitalist time" .
Environmentalists have for years protested the air-pollution from the smelters on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. In 2015, led by Action by 'Nature and Youth, residents, indigenous groups and activists of Murmansk protested high level of environmental contamination. They rose concerns about heavenly polluted water sites near the metallurgical complex. In 22 bodies of water, 165 instances of high, and 45 of extremely high levels of nickel, molybdenum, copper, sulphates, flotation reagents, nitrogen compounds and organic and other substances have been recorded. Places like Monchegorsk, Zapolyarnny and Nickel also falls short of public health standards according to the activists .
Another protest was held in 2016, when hundreds of residents of Kirkenes in Norway highlighted their worries over the heavy metal emissions wafting in from the Russian Kola Peninsula’s industrial complex towns, and requested their own local politicians to take action and urgently improve the situation .
Company Norilsk Nickel known as Nornickel, is main producer of nickel, palladium and other metals in the Kola peninsula. Processing facilities are located in Nikel, Monchegorsk and Zapolyarny, Kola Penninsula at the borders to Norway and Finland . The production units are considered among the biggest polluters in the whole Russian Arctic . Recently, however, the company announced that the smelters in Nikel and Monchegorsk will be closed and production moved to new modern facilities also in Monchegorsk .
The news was announced shortly after The Nature Protection Control Authority did not issue a new operation environmental licence for the old plants in Nikel and Monchegorsk . This is because the company has failed to meet its environmental obligations and standards . The company will continue development but through "modern" mining and refining technologies in Monchegorsk .