Largest Oil Spill in Russian History - Putin Heard About the Incident from Social Media
Russian officials are scrambling to clean up an oil spill in a region in northern Siberia, after an oil leak that began at the end of May was found to have released over 21,000 tons of diesel into the soil, two rivers, and a downstream lake.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency in the region, which is now faced with one of the largest oil spills in Russian history.
Government Heard about the Incident from Social Media
Putin spoke out against the incident, saying that he had only learned of the spill last Sunday. “Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?” he slammed the head of the facility who did not report the leak earlier. “Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?”
Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office on June 5 ordered a review of all hazardous objects built on permafrost in response to a fuel tank leak that has created an ecological disaster in the Arctic linked to climate change.
The power plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer, which said the leak on May 29 was caused when pillars supporting a storage tank sank due to the thawing of permafrost soil.
In an online meeting on June 5, Putin criticized the Head of Norilsk Nickel Vladimir Potanin, for not replacing the fuel tank earlier.
“If you had changed it on time, there would not have been this ecological damage and the company would not have had to foot these [cleanup] costs. Study this as closely as possible inside the company,” Putin told Potanin during the televised meeting.
Potanin, who is Russia’s richest man with a net worth of nearly $20 billion, according to Forbes, said Norilsk Nickel will pay for the costs of the cleanup, estimated at 10 billion rubles ($145 million).
Default of Notice was Intentional
Norilsk Nickel hushed up and downplayed the scale of the disaster for at least two days after the accident. The fuel seeped into the ground and then entered the Daldykan and Ambarnaya rivers, which feed into Lake Pyasino.
Russian authorities have arrested the head of one of the units of the thermal power plant for negligence and violating environmental regulations.
Greenpeace Russia has described the disaster as the “first accident of such a scale in the Arctic.”
Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Ecology Yelena Panova has said it could take at least 10 years for the local environment to recover.