Russia’s Ecological Disaster

By: Precious M. Lesupi

A huge oil spill that turned rivers in northern Siberia crimson threatens significant damage to the Arctic. This prompted Russian president Vladimir Putin to declare a state of emergency in the region.

More than 20, 000 tons of diesel oil spilled into Ambarnaya River from a broken tank at a power plant in Norilsk. Visible from space, the spill is said to be the worst ecological incident in the region.

As much as russia’s emergency services have tried to mitigate the disaster, there has been some challenges. This include the difficulty in reaching the area, and the shallowness of the river which affects operations by boat.

Norilsk Nickel, owner of the plant that has become the world’s largest producer of platinum and nickel, said that a fuel collapsed at the power plant. The oil leaked farther than seven miles from the site. The power plant’s director, Vyacheslav Starostin was taken into custody but was not yet charged with any crime.

In their attempt to clean up the spill, the company and the country’s emergency services only managed to collect only 340 tons of oil. The teams laid booms across the river to avoid the oil from slowing into a lake downstream that feeds a river leading to the fragile Arctic Ocean. A spokesperson in charge of the taskforce of cleaning up the accident reported that they had stopped the spread of the petroleum jelly products.

The company said that melting permafrost may have been the accident’s trigger. It also said that it would pay for the cleanup which were estimated to cost around 10bn rubles.

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