Large fuel spill in northern Russian Federation extends into the Arctic Ocean

Rodiano Bonacci
Июня 12, 2020

A collapsed fuel storage tank at Russian metal mining and smelting company Norilsk Nickel's power plant is leaking oil in the Arctic north.

"This is a attractive lake about 70 kilometers [43 miles] long", said Uss, as reported by Interfax.

Roughly 20,000 tons of red dye diesel fuel poured out into the Ambarnaya River, which carried the fuel into Lake Pyasino.

A Russian environmentalist has warned that a recent oil spill in Siberia could reach the Kara Sea, which forms part of the Arctic Ocean. Lake Pyasino is about 70 kilometers long. "Naturally, it has both fish and a good biosphere". The company released a statement that one of the storage tank pillars had collapsed due to thawing permafrost, the New York Times reported on June 4.

President Vladimir Putin ordered a state of emergency after the extent of the spill became known and Norilsk Nickel has since promised to pay for the costs of the cleanup, estimated at 10 billion rubles ($145 million). The oil threatens to contaminate local waterways and the sensitive Arctic ecosystem.

Contrary to the company's claim, Krasnoyarsk officials report high concentrations of polluted water throughout areas beyond the floating containment booms in the picture above. Clean-up efforts are expected to take years and cost Norilsk Nickel almost $150 million. In the past, the company was accused of using global warming as an excuse not to act in ecological crises.

"There is no reason to believe that our colleagues could interfere with the investigation", Nornickel said.

It said he failed to organize a proper environmental response and monitoring of the spill, or to coordinate local efforts. The company has sent hundreds of workers to help clean up the spilled diesel. One billion Russian rubles is now worth $US14.5 ($21) million dollars.

The Investigative Committee, which is probing the accident, said it had detained the director of the power station, Pavel Smirnov, along with two engineers on suspicion of breaching environmental protection rules.

The charges, which could see the mayor jailed for up to six months if found guilty, come a day after investigators arrested three managers at the power station involved in the spill.

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