Due to the large-scale pollution of one of the rivers resulting from an accident at a local thermal power plant, the authorities of the Siberian city of Norilsk declared an emergency.
According to the prosecutor’s office of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, 20 thousand liters of diesel leaked into the Ambarnaya River through a hole in the reserve fuel storage for generators. A criminal case has been opened. It’s about soil pollution.
Satellite imagery published by the WWF and video footage appearing on social media clearly show the pollution of the Ambarnaya River with petroleum products. The river flows into the Kara Sea, one of the marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean. To prevent the spread of pollution in the Arctic, experts from the Russian Navy joined in the work.
Norilsk is known for its nickel plant. This city with 174 thousand inhabitants is considered the northernmost city in the world. It stands completely on permafrost, which in many regions is threatened by melting caused by climate change.
The territory belongs to the Russian mining and metallurgical concern Norilsk Nickel. They assume that the tank has shifted from the base due to melted soil as a result of the subsidence of piles. Piles kept the tank “no problem for 30 years,” the concern said.
Norilsk Nickel’s chief Sergei Lipin said sailors put up booms in both river tributaries to prevent oil products from spreading downstream. Dozens of workers have already scooped up about 500 cubic meters of contaminated water. Cleaning operations are ongoing. According to Rosprirodnadzor, groundwater is not infected.
Not the first disaster at Norilsk Nickel
According to Alexei Knizhnikov from the Russian branch of the Wildlife Fund, the right measures are being taken, but this does not mean that toxic substances will not enter the sea. “Unfortunately, the most toxic elements of diesel fuel, such as aromatic hydrocarbons as benzene, toluene, and xylene, dissolve in water and therefore cannot be detained by booms.” Knizhnikov agrees with other environmental experts: careful monitoring of river water is necessary up to the Arctic protection zones.
Four years ago, an oil spill accident also occurred at one of the Norilsk Nickel enterprises, as a result of which another river in the region suffered massive pollution. Then the concern was fined an amount corresponding to the translation of one thousand euros.