Russia: serious pollution to the fuel in the Arctic

At least 20 000 litres of fuel are poured by accident in a river in the Great Russian North, prompting authorities to declare an “emergency situation” and raising the concern of environmentalists and local residents.

In a statement, the environmentalist association WWF welcomed on Tuesday that the pollution could have been contained by a boom, put in place by the authorities, before reaching a large lake north of the arctic city of Norilsk (Siberia).

Satellite images published by the NGO show large areas of red, caused by the fuel covering a local river, the Ambarnaïa.

On social networks, several people have posted videos showing parts of the water courses polluted.

The pollution was caused by the leak, reported last Friday, a fuel tank of a thermal power plant located a few kilometres to the west of Norilsk.

“A diesel tank was damaged and had a leak because of subsidence, suddenly the pillars that had held for 30 years without any difficulty “, said in a statement that the mining giant Nornickel, owner of the plant.

The industrial city of Norilsk is built entirely on permafrost, which is threatened by the melting ice caused by climate change.

But the authorities and the environmentalists have not yet established the exact cause of the accident or a link with climate change.

The prosecutor of the Krasnoyarsk region has stated that an “emergency situation” natural had been enacted at the local level. A survey was also open to ” contamination of soil “.

According to the investigative Committee, the pollution is ” at least 20 000 litres of hydrocarbons extending over 350 square meters “.

At a meeting Tuesday, the director of the company Nornickel, Sergei Lipine, has said that 500 cubic meters of pollutants were removed by a team of 90 workers, always hard at work.

The local authorities stated that they had no record of groundwater pollution, according to a press release published on the website of the Krasnoyarsk region.

WWF called, however, to put in place a monitoring of the quality of water downstream, to avoid the toxic chemicals spread to the natural reserves.

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