Russia declares emergency after 20,000 tons of diesel leak near Arctic Circle
Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a state of emergency after an Arctic oil spill dumped about 20,000 tons of oil into a river last week, criticizing the local response to the incident.
“The accident took place at the industrial site of the Nadezhdinski Metallurgical Plant, and part of the spilled petrochemicals, a considerable amount actually, seeped into the Ambarnaya River,” Putin told Russian officials Wednesday. The plant is operated by Norilsk Nickel, the world’s top palladium producer and among the world’s biggest nickel, platinum and copper producers, CNBC reported.
Putin has questioned the effectiveness of local measures taken to clean up the leak, which occurred near the city of Norilsk in Russia’s northern Krasnoyarsk region in the Arctic Circle, reportedly saying local officials did not learn of the spill until two days later based on social media reports.
“What, are we to learn about emergency situations from social networks? Are you alright healthwise over there?” Putin said, according to Reuters.
— The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) June 2, 2020
Norilsk Nickel, meanwhile, has attributed the accident to “a sudden sinking of supporting posts in the basement of the storage tank.” The company said the spill occurred in a remote area and did not affect any residential communities.
“In total, Norilsk Nickel has mobilized 250 personnel and 72 equipment items to work on the liquidation. As of June 3, a total of 262 tons of diesel fuel has been collected near HHP-3 [the power plant], a total of 800 cubic meters of contaminated soil has been removed and approximately 80 tons of fuel has been collected from the spill to Ambarnaya river,” the company said.
The Kremlin’s Investigative Committee, in the meantime, said that it has launched an investigation into the spill, saying it had “caused pollution and environmental damage” and that a site manager has been detained.