Russia has declared an emergency in a region in northern Siberia after a huge oil spill that turned a river crimson. The spill is said to be one of the worst accidents in the country.


The spill can significantly damage the Arctic environment. 

As it turns out, more than 20,000 tons of diesel leaked into the Ambarnaya river near Norilsk city last Friday. This happened because a fuel tank collapsed at a power plant. 

The New York Times/ Severny Gorod/ Reuters

Norilsk Nickel that owns the plant stated that the thawing permafrost caused the tank’s pillars to collapse. The oil leaked for more than seven miles from the site. 

Being called as one of the biggest oil spills in modern Russian history, Greenpeace Russsian compared the spill to the Exxon Valdez Tanker spill in Alaska in 1989. 

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A criminal inquiry has been opened by the Russian Investigative Committee and has detained the plant’s manager, Vyacheslav Starostin. 

Russian President, Putin shared that he was angered to have learned of the spill on Sunday even after declaring the state of emergency on Wednesday. He has denounced then company’s officials in a video conference that was broadcasted live. 

Putin commented that: 

Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact? Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?

Putin has said that he would ask the investigators to dig into the matter to make assessment of how officials reacted to the incident. 

AlJazeera/ Reuters

Norilsk Nickel happens to be the world’s largest platinum and nickel producer. And, has caused environmental disasters in the past. 

Norilsk was behind the “blood river” that took place in Siberia in 2016. And, also responsible for one of its plants to belch so much sulfur dioxide, a major cause of acid rain, that it is circled by a dead zone of tree trunks and mud twice the size of Rhode Island!

The company along with the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry has sent across hundreds of personnel to clean the spill. Norilsk Nickel claimed that they had only managed to clean around 340 tons of oil. 

To prevent the spill from entering the nearby lake Pyasino and the Kara Sea which is a part of the Artic Ocean, special containment booms have been installed in the Ambarnaya River. 

Bellona/Courtest of via the Barents Observer.

The Russian Deputy Minister of National Resources and the environment, Elena Panova stated on Thursday in an online conference that it would take at least 10 years for the local ecosystem to recuperate. The statement is in sync with the sentiments of Russian environmentalists.  

Sergey Verkhovets, the coordinator of Arctic projects for WWF Russia, said in a statement: 

The incident led to catastrophic consequences, and we will be seeing the repercussions for years to come. We are talking about dead fish, polluted plumage of birds and poisoned animals. 

The effects are so severe that it reminded of a big oil leak in the Komi region of the Russian Arctic in 1994. A ruptured pipeline led to a spill at least 2 million barrels of hot oil! 

MSN/ Y. KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images

One accident after the other, we hope that nature is able to recover from this one!