A state emergency has been ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, due to 20,000 tonnes of oil leaked into a river inside the Arctic Circle.
The spill of 20,000 tons of diesel took place on Friday. Spill occurred when a fuel reservoir at a power plant near the city of Norilsk collapsed, located above the Arctic Circle, and leaked into a nearby river.
Alexei Knizhnikov World Wildlife Fund expert told AFP that the accident is the second largest in modern Russian history in terms of volume.
Putin criticize the head of the Nornickel subsidiary that owns the power plant, NTEK, on Wednesday during a video conference after the official said the company failed to report the incident.
Putin asked NTEK chief Sergei Lipin in an unusually stern dressing-down, “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 there?”
Norilsk Nickel said in a statement that NTEK had reported what happened in a “timely and proper” way.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which deals with major incidents, announced it launched three criminal probes over environmental violations and detained an employee of the power plant.
Alexei Knizhnikov WWF expert told AFP the environmental group was the one who alerted cleanup specialists after confirming the accident through its sources.
“These are huge volumes,” Knizhnikov said. “It was difficult for them to cover it up.”
However, officials told to Putin that the Ambarnaya River the brunt of the spill oil will be difficult to clean up because it is too shallow to use barges and the remote location has no roads.
Dmitry Kobylkin, Russia’s environment minister said “It’s a very difficult situation. I can’t imagine burning so much fuel in an Arctic territory … such a huge bonfire over such an area will be a big problem.”
– Davinder Panesar, NMTV