Severe environmental disaster in Norilsk | Polarjournal
After the collapse of a strut in the foundation of the tank plant, a massive oil leak occurred. Hundreds of workers are busy cleaning up (Photo: Sputnik News)

Norilsk is probably the toughest city in Russia. The approximately 180,000 inhabitants live completely isolated in the north of Siberia. Not only freezing temperatures, but also the dirt cause a lot of problems. Norilsk made it into the top 10 of the dirtiest cities in the world in 2013. A state of emergency has now been declared in Norilsk. A few days ago, almost 21,000 tonnes of diesel flowed from a thermal power plant into the Daldykan and Ambarnaja rivers. Photos show how the water turned red as a result.

Norilsk is a city in the Krasnoyarsk region. It has a population of 180,000 and is considered the northernmost major city on earth. Due to nickel production, the city and its surroundings have high levels of pollution. (Photo: Gelio LiveJournal)

A serious oil accident has occurred near the Siberian city of Norilsk: according to authorities, around 21,000 tons of diesel have already flowed into the Ambarnaja River on Friday due to a leak at a thermal power plant. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency for the affected area and ordered measures to contain it. The Public Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation.

The spilled mineral oil has already contaminated watercourses in the region, which is hardly connected to the transport network. Tree trunks were laid in the Ambarnaja River to hold it back. The river flows into a lake from which another river leads into the Arctic Ocean.

Workers tried to prevent the worst with oil barriers (Photo: Marine Rescue Service)

On satellite images published by the WWF and videos circulated on the online networks, the oil pollution in the Ambarnaja River was clearly visible. The environmental organisation WWF welcomed the construction of a dam to prevent oil from flowing into a lake.

In the river Ambarnaja, the oil pollution can not to missed. (Photo: Norilsk Nickel)

Supporting pillars sank down

According to the Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel, the accident was caused by a leak on a diesel tank in the thermal power plant. The diesel tank was damaged when the pillars supporting it unexpectedly sank into the ground. The pillars had supported the tank “without any problems for 30 years,” the company said. The city of Norilsk, located above the Arctic Circle, is built on permafrost. The climate change-related melting threatens the entire infrastructure of the city.

The tank on the left in the picture resulted in the loss of 21,000 tons of diesel fuel. Due to the resulting vacuum in the tank, the roof of the system was pressed in. (Photo: Norilsk Nickel)

The head of Norilsk Nickel, Sergei Lipin, said dozens of workers had already removed 500 cubic meters of the polluted water. The clean-up operation is also continuing.

Not the first accident for Norilsk Nickel

Four years ago, a pollutant accident occurred at a plant operated by Norilsk Nickel, in which another river in the region was massively polluted. At that time, the group was fined less than a thousand euros.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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