Russian company blocks waste disposal after unprecedented fuel leak in Artic


Aerial view shows the site of a diesel fuel leak in the river after an accident at a power plant outside Norilsk


Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel said Sunday it had stopped discharging sewage from one of its facilities in the Arctic, a month after an unprecedented nearby fuel leak triggered the state of ’emergency.

The incident occurred at the Talnakh enrichment plant near the Arctic city of Norilsk, the company said, when liquids used to treat minerals were “released from a tank”.

“Measures have been taken to stop” the evacuation of the liquid in the neighboring territory, the company said, adding that there was no threat of waste leaking.

A source from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, however, told the RIA Novosti news agency that the release of toxic substances could pose a threat to the nearby Kharayelakh River.

The commission of inquiry, which is investigating serious crimes, said it had received reports of “unauthorized dumping of liquid waste in the tundra” at the site of the facility and had opened an investigation.

The independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published videos of the scene in a report claiming that the plant had deliberately discharged the wastewater into nearby wildlife areas.

Novaya Gazeta reporters said that Norilsk Nickel employees hastily removed the pipes when investigators and emergency services arrived at the scene.

Norilsk Nickel spokeswoman Tatiana Egorova confirmed to AFP that plant workers had pumped “purified water from the tank” and that an internal investigation was underway.

A spokesperson for the Russian natural resources agency said the decision to remove water from the reservoir was made to avoid an emergency, after heavy rains and tests that had caused dramatic increases in levels of water.

“To avoid possible emergencies due to the increase in water levels in the basin, the operating staff decided to quickly lower the water level,” said Svetlana Radionova.

Norilsk Nickel was at the center of another incident last month when more than 21,000 tonnes of diesel leaked into the ground and rivers after a fuel tank collapsed at a power plant also near Norilsk.

The accident occurred at a factory owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which said the collapse may have been caused by the melting of permafrost due to climate change.

President Vladimir Putin has declared an emergency after the accident and the head of Norilsk Nickel, the oligarch Vladimir Potanin, has promised to pay the cleaning costs.

Russian authorities said earlier this month that they had cleaned up the spill from the surface of a river affected by the massive diesel spill, but the complete cleanup could take years.

(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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