On February 5, 2021, the court ruled that the “Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company” should be ordered to pay 146 billion Rubles (1.62 billion Euros) for environmental damage. The decision was prompted by the spill of more than 21,000 tons of diesel oil, which contaminated rivers, lakes and endangered wetlands in May 2020. The fine is unprecedented; never before has a company been sentenced to such a high penalty in Russia.
The judges of the Krasnoyarsk Arbitration Court announced their verdict in the case against “Norilsko-Taymyrsky Energy Company” (NTEK) on February 5. According to the verdict, NTEK must pay 146.18 billion Rubles (1.62 billion Euros) for the serious environmental damage.
Russia’s environmental protection agency “Rosprirodnadzor” sued the company after more than 21,000 tons of diesel fuel leaked from a collapsed oil tank in late May 2020.
“Nornickel” first blamed the melting permafrost for the collapse of the fuel tank, which was later not confirmed. Investigations revealed that the oil reservoir burst due to design flaws and mismanagement by the company. “Nornickel” at first tried to hide the disaster. Satellite images brought the extent to light. Both environmentalists and authorities called the spill the worst ecological disaster ever to occur in the Arctic.
“We are happy, we won. I am sure that this money will be spent on solving environmental problems,” said Svetlana Radionova, head of “Rosprirodnadzor”. “I think that the government will make such a decision. We are making this public story even more open.”
“Rosprirodnadzor” estimated the environmental damage at almost 148 billion rubles. “Nornickel” disagreed and argued that according to its own calculations, the damage was only 21.4 billion rubles.
“According to Russian law, the verdict will come into force after one month from the date of sentencing if no appeal is filed. “Nornickel” will carefully consider the court verdict after receiving the full text”, the company said in a statement.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal