Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency on June 4, 2020 after a massive fuel spill in the Arctic Circle. At least 20,000 tonnes of diesel leaked from a power plant in Norilsk last week and spilled into the Ambarnaya River in Siberia, making it turn red.
Russia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, five days after a power plant fuel leak in its Arctic region caused 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil to escape into a local river, turning its surface crimson red. The Ambarnaya river, into which the oil has been discharged, is part of a network that flows into the environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean.
The state-owned TASS news agency reported that the emergency measures were announced within Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Region, located in the vast and sparsely populated Siberian peninsula. The power plant is located near the Region’s Norilsk city, around 3000 km northeast of Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday slammed the billionaire of a nickel company after a massive fuel oil spill that caused huge damage to an arctic region. As per the report, the plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.
Putin has ordered an investigation into the accident and a manager at the power plant has since been detained. Investigators have started looking into the cause of the accident and local officials’ failure to quickly report it to federal authorities. This incident comes during a time when unusually high temperatures are causing the Arctic permafrost to melt.
- An expert told the BBC that the clean-up effort could take between 5-10 years.
- Russian Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev is expected to manage the massive clean-up operation.
- At least 20,000 tonnes of diesel leaked from a power plant in Norilsk and spilled into the Ambarnaya River in Siberia, making it turn red.
- Oil spill in Arctic Circle Is so huge that, It’s visible from space.
- The plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.
- The oil spill has contaminated a 350 sq km area.
How did the spill happen?
The thermoelectric power plant at Norilsk is built on permafrost, which has weakened over the years owing to climate change. This caused the pillars that supported the plant’s fuel tank to sink., leading to a loss of containment on May 29. Reports said that around 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil was released into the Ambarnaya river, which has since drifted 12 km on its surface.
Norilsk Nickel, the Russian mining giant that owns the plant, said it had reported the leak in a “timely and proper” way and that the pillars had held the tank in its place “for 30 years without difficulty”. Russia’s weather and environment service warned of the risks of melting permafrost as early as 2017.
Russian President slammed the head of the Norilsk Nickel subsidiary (NTEK), which runs the power plant, for failing to report the oil leakage. Putin allegedly found out about the oil spill two days later when people started posting pictures of the red river on their social media pages. However, Norilsk Nickel maintains that NTEK had reported the incident in a “timely and proper” manner.
Why has Russia declared a state of emergency?
The Russian President stated that a declaration of national emergency was needed to call in more resources for the clean-up effort. The massive oil spill is the second largest accident in modern Russian history in terms of volume, according to World Wildlife Fund expert Alexei Knizhnikov. The largest-ever accident in Russia involved an oil spill in the northwestern region of Komi, which took place over several months in 1994.
What is the extent of the damage?
At least 12 km of the Ambarnaya river’s surface has been polluted by the spill. According to Environmentalists, the river would be difficult to clean, especially given its shallow waters and remote locations, as well as the magnitude of the spill. Environmentalists have said the river would be difficult to clean, given its shallow waters and remote location, as well as the magnitude of the spill. A World Wildlife Fund speaking to the AFP news agency described this as the second-largest known oil leak in modern Russia’s history in terms of volume. An expert told that the clean-up effort could take between 5-10 years.
What is permafrost? How it affected oil spill?
Permafrost is ground that remains frozen. It can be located on land or even under the ocean. Permafrost does not necessarily have to be the first layer on the ground, it can be an inch to over miles deep into the Earth’s surface. Around 85 percent of Alaska, Canada, Siberia and Greenland are sitting on top of a permafrost layer. Permafrost is formed when ice holds different kinds of soil, rock and sand together.
The Norilsk city was constructed on permafrost like other infrastructure in the Arctic region on the assumption that it would be permanent. However, climate change has caused the temperature to rise, resulting in the melting of ice, which is impacting the infrastructure of the city and other areas in Siberia and the Arctic region. Siberia along with the Arctic is warming at a much faster rate than other regions, which is raising concerns about its melting permafrost. The Norilsk city is in fact, in a part of Siberia that has experienced unusually warm temperatures this time of the year, at least 5.4 degrees above the long-term average, according to US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.