Russian mayor charged over failure to contain Arctic spill

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 13, 2020

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

He added that the focus for the moment is to stop the spilled diesel fuel from reaching Pyasina River, which flows into the Kara Sea in the greater Arctic Ocean - an area that has already been drastically affected by climate change.

Prosecutors partly blamed melting permafrost for the collapse.

Nornickel, the parent company of the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company, which operates the station, said the accident could be the result of the foundation of the storage tank depot due to thawing, the news agency reports.

Putin last week declared a state of emergency in the remote region of northern Siberia after it became clear that the spill, which occurred on May 29, would not be contained near the site of the broken tank.

Russian authorities have charged the director of an Arctic power plant that leaked 20,000 tons of diesel fuel into the ecologically fragile region with violating environmental regulations, a crime that could bring five years in prison.

If left unattended, the oil could contaminate local waterways and a delicate Arctic ecosystem.

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Spilled diesel fuel dredged from the river being poured into containment tanks. That plant provides electricity to one of the largest industrial developments on the Arctic Circle, the Norilsk nickel mines and metal smelters.

Regional officials say oil booms and other cleanup operations have failed to prevent all the spilled fuel and chemicals from flowing from the Daldykan and Ambarnaya rivers into Lake Pyasino.

Norilsk Nickel's first vice president denied the spill had reached the lake on a conference call on Wednesday, saying the company did not find contamination there. In the past, the company was accused of using global warming as an excuse not to act in ecological crises. "We are talking about dead fish, contaminated plumage of birds and poisoned animals", said Sergey Verkhovets, arctic project coordinator for WWF Russia, in a statement.

The Norilsk area is hardly alone in facing problems from thawing permafrost.

Norilsk Nickel is owned by Russia's richest man, Vladimir Potanin. One billion Russian rubles is now worth $US14.5 ($21) million dollars.

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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