Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency following an accident in which 20,000 tons of diesel spilled into an Arctic river.
Diesel started flowing when an oil tank in the Siberian city of Norilsk collapsed last Friday.
President Putin has expressed outrage that authorities learned of the incident two days after the crash.
The power plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium metals.
And in a video televised press conference Wednesday, President Putin slammed the company’s head for delaying action.
He asked Sergei Lippin, head of the Norilsk Nickel subsidiary, “Why did government agencies find out about this two days after the accident?” Will we know about such emergencies through social media?
Alexander Oss, the governor of the Siberian region, had earlier told President Putin that he had learned of the oil spill on Sunday after “dangerous information was posted on social media.”
According to media reports, an area of 350 sq km has become polluted due to diesel overflow.
President Putin has ordered an investigation into the incident and a plant manager has been detained.
President Putin expressed surprise that authorities learned of the accident from posts on social media.
Norrislick Nickel said in a statement that the accident was reported in a timely and appropriate manner.
The accident happened when the pillars of the oil tank of the power plant started collapsing. The plant is built on a surface that is permanently frozen. This frozen ground is slowly melting due to rising temperatures due to climate change.
The oil spilled from the tank has spread 12 kilo meters away from the accident site, which has caused the water of the river Ambernia to turn deep red.
The declaration of a state of emergency means that additional resources and additional personnel will now be deployed to clean up the area.
Alexei Knezhnykov, an expert with the World Wildlife Fund, told AFP that it was the second-largest accident in Russia’s history by volume.
Can it be cured?
The crash has provided new evidence to warn environmentalists about the extreme warning of climate change and rising temperatures, citing the river’s geographical location and the amount of oil spilled. It will not be easy to clean it.
The environmental group Greenpeace compared the crash to the 1989 Exxon Valdez crash in Alaska.
Oleg Mittvol, a former deputy head of Russia’s environmental watchdog Rosperod Nedzor, said “such an accident has never happened before at the North Pole.”
He said cleaning work in the region could cost 100 billion rubles (equivalent to 1.5 billion US dollars) and could take ten years.
This is not the first time that the company Torlesk Nickel has been named in an oil spill.
In 2016, the company acknowledged that an accident at one of its plants was responsible for reddening a nearby river.
Russia’s Natural Resources Minister Dmitry Koblekin has warned against setting any fire near such a large oil spill.
He suggested that “reagents” be used to reduce the flammability of oil (ie, factors that are capable of producing chemical reactions so that the oil does not catch fire). He added that only military emergency departments are capable of dealing with such an accident.
He warned that large boats would not be able to contain the soft liquid because the Umbrian River was not deep.
He also suggested that the oil flowing into the river be pumped out of the river and dumped in a nearby tundra, in the arid plains of the North Pole, which freezes to low levels even in summer. Stay packed
And President Putin has added that “the soil there is probably already (filled with oil) at the moment.”