A major oil spill has occurred at a plant owned by a subsidiary of Norlisk Nickel on the northern edge of the Russia near the Ambarnaya river. Norlisk Nickel known for being the world’s largest nickel and palladium producer originates from the town of Norlisk just 90km east of the Ambarnaya river.
According to the Russian Government, the spill occurred when a fuel tank at the plant collapsed last Friday dumping the fuel into the river and the surrounding permafrost. It is believed that the subsidence beneath the fuel tanks caused this collapse with an unprecedented amount of thawing amongst the permafrost recorded this year, a factor engineers did not account for when designing these decades old plants.
Russian President Putin who declared state of emergency furious over the spill criticized the company by asking “Why did the government agencies only find out about this two days later? Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?”. Putin referred to the alleged attempt by the plant owner to cover up the spill resulting in a two day delay before it was reported to the Russian ministry for Emergencies.
According to the ministry, an estimated 350 square kilometers has been affected by the spill with the Ambarnaya river which directly leads to the arctic circle turned red from the oil. According to the former deputy head of Russian environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, it is the first spill of such magnitude to have occurred in within the arctic circle and recovery efforts will take at least $1.5billion over the next 5-10 years