As much as 20,000 tonnes of diesel fuel leaked from a damaged power plant into the nearby river in the Arctic circle on May 29, prompting Russia to declare a national emergency in the region. Estimated damages of $13 million are said to have been caused by the oil spill that has turned the river crimson.
According to reports, the incident took place in the Siberian city of Norilsk, where a fuel tank of a power plant operated by subsidiaries of a leading mineral producing company Nornickel, leaked and spilled into the adjoining river further spreading into other water bodies.
Wildlife experts estimate around $13 million damage of fish and other resources in the region. State authorities were reportedly reported two days after the incident took place, drawing a sharp response from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact? Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media? Are you quite healthy over there?” the Russian President slammed the head of Nornickel in a video conference. A criminal case has been launched by the Russian Investigative Committee (SK) because of the alleged delay in information.
Authorities of Nadezhdinski Metallurgical Plant, where the incident happened assumed the tank leaked because of sinking pillars that support the fuel tank or soil thawing, according to media reports.
“We can assume that abnormally mild temperatures could have caused permafrost thawing resulting in partial subsidence of the tank’s supports,” Ornickel Vice-President and CEO Sergey Dyachenko told.
Tweet by the company says crews are responding ASAP and that after an ariel survey it has been established that the oil has flown from Daldykan River into the Ambarka River which is now “contained by several booms.” The work of collecting the disposed of the spill has been initiated according to the company’s tweet.
Recent updates say “201 tonnes of diesel have been collected near the plant,” about 137 tonnes of diesel have been pulled from the Ambarka River, and 1450 cubic meters of contaminated soil have also been removed.” The company has launched an investigation to find the cause of the accident.
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Reports state the spill has turned a 7.5-mile stretch of Ambarnaya River crimson. Russia’s environment minister, Dmitry Kobylkin said he was grappling with the idea to burn the fuel, The Guardian reports. However, it was deemed too risky given the area of the spill.
Analysts say there has never been such a massive scale of the spill on the Arctic circle before, and that it might take 5-10 years to clean the mess and cost more than $1.5 million.
(Cover image courtesy of ilya_torgonskyi via Instagram)