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Russia Declares State Of Emergency Over Arctic Oil Spill

Tanzeel Akhtar

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency Wednesday after a massive diesel fuel spill in a Siberian river causing more than an estimated $76 million in damage to waterways above the Arctic Circle, reports The Moscow Times. Cleaning operations were still underway on Friday.

What Happened?

It is estimated that 20,000 tonnes of diesel leaked into the Ambarnaya River near the Siberian city of Norilsk on May 29. The spill has been traced to a power plant owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel that produces nickel and palladium.

The supports under a diesel storage tank gave way, resulting in a severe leak, according to the company, which added that prior inspections of the supports revealed no cause for concern. 

The Norilsk Nickel Twitter account has been sharing updates on the cleaning operation.

Previous inspections of the supports revealed no cause for concern. 

“I think decontamination will cost Nornickel billions of roubles, but I’m speaking not as a businessman, but as a human being concerned about the situation: whatever the cost, we will pay it,” Nornickel CEO Vladimir Potanin in a televised call with Russian president Putin.

What's Next?

So far several rescue teams have been sent including a group from the Ministry of Emergencies and another from the Maritime and River Transport Agency to assist with cleaning up the spill.

Nornickel said in a Friday update that 6,730 tonnes of contaminated soil has been removed and 400 tonnes of diesel has been collected in the vicinity of the Combined Heat and Power Plant 3 and  6,500 square metres of river bank has been treated with sorbents.

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