Environmentalists sue Nornickel | Polarjournal

Nornickel is a company headquartered in Moscow, Russia. Nornickel’s operating business is mainly located in the Norilsk-Talnach region of northern Russia, where the company is by far the largest employer. Nornickel is the world’s leading nickel and palladium mining company.

Russia’s state-run environmentalists are threatening to take the mining company Nornickel to court unless it voluntarily pays compensation for environmental damage. The bursting of a storage tank resulted in a massive pollution from diesel fuel.

When a fuel tank collapsed on 29 May 2020, 21,000 tonnes of diesel leaked into the environment. According to Nornickel’s own information, a large part of it has been recaptured. (Photo: Yuri Kadobnov)

Nornickel, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel and palladium, has been in the spotlight since a fuel tank leaked on May 29 and 21,000 tons of diesel leaked into rivers and underground near the Arctic city of Norilsk. The waters and soil of the surrounding area were polluted.

Last week, Norilsk Nornickel announced that it had recovered more than 90 percent of the fuel that had leaked into the waters. According to its own data, it is said to be about 12,000 tonnes of fuel.

At the beginning of September 2020, the environmental protection organization “Rosprirodnadzor” sent a request for “voluntary compensation” amounting to almost 148 billion rubles (2.1 billion dollars) to the Nornickelelectricity subsidiary NTEK.

“We will of course go to court if the company does not want to pay,” Svetlana Radionova, the head of Rosprirodnadzor, said in a commentary to the Interfax news agency.

Now Rosprirodnadzor has implemented its announcement and filed a lawsuit against the mining giant Nornickel. Environmentalists’ claim is worth USD 2 billion for the environmental damage caused by the spill.

Nornickel disagrees with both the scope of the claim and the methodology used to calculate it, a spokesman said in a statement, but added: “The company confirms its commitment to eliminate the consequences of the accident at its own expense.”

Nornickel believes it was premature to file the lawsuit because it was hoping for an extrajudicial settlement. It said it had already recovered a total of 2 billion dollars in reserves, which led to a slump in its net profit in the first half of the year.

The environmental group Greenpeace has compared the incident to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska. Greenpeace supports Rosprirodnadzor’s claim for damages on the basis that the sum corresponds to the unprecedented extent of damage to the Arctic’s water resources.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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