The Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has declared a state of emergency in a region within northern Siberia after 20,000 tons of oil leaked into a river from a power plant.
The huge oil spill turned the Ambarnaya river crimson (in color) and threatened to inflict significant damage to the Arctic environment.
The spillage occurred on May 29 after a fuel tank collapsed at a power plant, operated by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and one of the largest producers of nickel, platinum and copper.
An aerial survey has established that the oil flowed through the Daldykan River into the Ambarka River and is now contained by several booms. Crews are working intensively to collect and dispose of the spilt oil. Nornickel will do its maximum to resolve this ASAP. pic.twitter.com/xcIaqezP9n
— Nornickel (@NornickelGroup) June 2, 2020
The Russian President was shocked to learn that local authorities came to know about the incident by social media—two days after it happened. “Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?” Putin said.
Norilsk Nickel said on its website that “the accident was caused by a sudden sinking of supporting posts in the basement of the storage tank” and that emergency teams “immediately arrived to the site to start clean up works.”
So far, Norilsk Nickel said, they had managed to gather up only around 340 tons of the oil.
The same company was also responsible for a “blood river,” also in Siberia, in 2016, and one of its plants has belched so much sulfur dioxide, a major cause of acid rain, that it is surrounded by a dead zone of tree trunks and mud about twice the size of Rhode Island.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a probe into the incident that has “caused pollution and environmental damage,” it said on its website.