New environmental disaster in the Arctic

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A large amount of fuel has been dumped into nature, near the Russian industrial region of Norilsk, in the Arctic. It is the second incident of its kind in two months.

About 44.5 tonnes of waste from a pipeline ended up in the environment, said Norilsk Transgas, a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel (or Nornickel), the world’s largest nickel and palladium extractor.

“A pipeline owned by Norilsk Transgaz was depressurized while pumping jet fuel in the area of the village of Tukhard,” the company said.

“According to preliminary data, as a result of depressurization, which lasted about 15 minutes, there was a spill of up to 44.5 tons of fuel,” he continued.

Previously, the Nornickel branch said the amount of fuel spilled was 20 tons.

The village of Tukhard is located about 100 kilometers from Norilsk and about 70 kilometers from the arctic port of Dudinka.

The company said the pipeline had been closed and measures were being taken to collect spilled fuel. He also reported that the accident did not endanger humans. Finally, Norilsk Transgas opened an internal investigation.

Norilsk Transgas is responsible for a major environmental disaster: in late May it spilled 21,000 tonnes of fuel from a thermal power plant tank, with Greenpeace comparing what happened with the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

The liquid hit the ground, two rivers, and a lake downstream after the storage tank sagged or sank due to what the company said was the thawing of the permafrost soil.

Two factory managers and two top engineers were arrested on suspicion of violating environmental protection rules. Norilsk Mayor and a government inspector were also accused of negligence.

Owned by Russian billionaires

The company is mostly owned by oligarch Vladimir Potanin, and also has another oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, as a shareholder. He became known in the West after his connections with Paul Manafort, a former campaign director for Donald Trump, who is currently serving a prison sentence, became known. In 2019, Deripaska saw the U.S. president lift sanctions on his companies.

Norilsk Nickel has committed to paying the estimated cleaning costs of 10 billion rubles (129 million euros).

But apparently Moscow was not touched by this gesture. After President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency, the Federal Service for the Supervision of Natural Resources said it had sent a request for “voluntary compensation” to the Norilsk Nickel subsidiary, having estimated the damage at 1.8 billion euros.

It is unknown whether the company will adhere to that request, even taking into account the value.

Source: DN

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