MOSCOW | The Russian agency for surveillance of the environment has asked for a compensation of 147.8 billion rubles (2.76 G$ CA) to mining giant Norilsk Nickel, is involved in a serious oil spill in the Arctic.
In a press release, the federal agency Rosprirodnadzor said to have sent to a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel this request for “voluntary compensation” equal to one-third of the net profits of the group by 2019.
On Monday evening, the action of Norilsk Nickel had fallen by nearly 5% on the Moscow stock Exchange. The company, controlled by the richest man in Russia, Vladimir Potanine, is the leading producer of palladium and nickel in the world.
At the end of may, 21 tons of fuel spilled into several rivers following the collapse of a storage tank of a thermal power plant owned by the company NTEK, a unit of Norilsk Nickel.
This pollution has generated a huge red tide, which is visible from the space, near the arctic city of Norilsk. It has required the setting up of booms and operations of pumping to avoid that the fuel reaches of protected natural spaces.
The aluminum producer Rusal, which owns 28% of Norilsk Nickel, has called a Monday, the amount of the fine of”unexpected” and it was hoped that an emergency meeting of the leaders of the group would discuss the request “unprecedented.”
“We are confident that the shareholders will be able to find a joint solution to this difficult situation,” said the press service of Rusal, contacted by AFP.
The Russian minister of the Environment, Dmitri Kobylkine, said in a press release that the fine reflected “the scale is unprecedented,” of the disaster.
He compared this pollution to the one of the worst oil spills in United States history, the sinking of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez in 1989, which, according to the minister, had cost it more than$ 5 billion at the company Exxon Mobile.
A spokesman for Norilsk Nickel said the company had not yet received an official request of the Russian authorities.
After the announcement of the disaster, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had ordered that the business takes care of all the cleaning costs.
The president of Norilsk Nickel was said to be ready to pay for “everything he had” and he had estimated the damage at 10 billion rubles ($123 million at the current rate), almost 15 times less than the amount requested now by the Russian authorities.