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UPDATED: Arctic river turns red again - two years after ‘pollution problem' supposedly fixed

By The Siberian Times reporter
14 June 2018

Shocking puce water as nearby nickel processing plant says cause is decades of contamination in Soviet times which company is working to overcome.

The press service of the plant said there was no emergency. Picture: Norilsk News

The ‘river of blood’ has appeared again, two years after the plant was fined by an eco-watchdog.

Nornickel, owner of Nadezhdinsky factory, also known as Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, says it has taken major action to clean-up the environment around Norilsk and in particular around the controversial Daldykan River.

Nikolay Utkin, director of the Polar Division of Norilsk Nickel, told The Siberian Times: 'The reason why the water in the Doldykan River got the reddish-brown colour is the active melting of snow, a powerful flood, which washes off the stuff that had been gathering here for decades.

Daldykan red again


Daldykan red again


Daldykan red again

The ‘river of blood’ has appeared again, two years after the plant’s owner was fined by an eco-watchdog. Pictures: Norilsk News

'Unfortunately, during the Soviet era, the environmental issues were resolved on a residual basis. 

'At present, Norilsk Nickel is making serious efforts to solve this problem.'

Critics have suggested a dammed slurry lake appears to be leaking again into the Daldykan River, so much so that the sight is visible from space satellites, but this is denied by the company. 

In the lake are ‘tailings’, the residue of ore after processing, it has been reported. 

The red tinge of the Arctic river, in the north of Krasnoyarsk region, is also seen on a video that has appeared on local news sites.

The press service of the plant said there was 'no emergency' but initially did not comment further, said local reports. 

Nornickel empire, better known as Norilsk Nickel, has $16.5 billion in assets.

Google image


Google image

Dammed slurry lake appears to be leaking again into the Daldykan River, so much so that the sight is visible from space satellites. 

In 2016 ecological watchdog - Rosprirodnadzor - announced an 'administrative fine' had been imposed over the ‘river of blood’.

The exact amount of the fine was not divulged but it could not be higher than 40,000 roubles - or $650. 

The fine was criticised at the time as too small but there were also understandings that the problem of pollution leaking into the river would be solved. 

Sergey Dyachenko, Chief Operating Officer of Nornickel, was on record saying: ‘We hope that it will not happen in future.’

Now Mr Uktin has revealed: 'In 2016, the slurry pipeline from Nadezhdinsky Metallurgical Plant to tailings was completely replaced, which helped to eliminate the main cause of the (problem).

River turns red


Red river

The ‘river of blood’ has appeared again, two years after the plant’s owner was fined by an eco-watchdog. Pictures: Social media

'Daily monitoring of this facility allows us to say that there are no leaks. 

'For two years of intensive use the pipeline has proved its reliability.

'The results of environmental monitoring of the territory, both visual and in the lab, confirm a significant improvement compared to the situation during the flood in the past year.

'In 2017, as part of the implementation of the three-year plan for the containment and cleaning of the spills, Norilsk Nickel began to clean up the area adjacent to the pipeline. 

'In total, 84,000 tons of spills, a considerable amount of scrap metal and various garbage were removed. 

'Totally more than 2 million square metres (227.89 hectares) was cleared. 

'The cost of the cleaning in 2017 amounted to about 150 million roubles ($2.4 million).

Clean river


Clean river


Clean river

Norilsk Nickel released video showing that the river is clean again. Pictures: Norilsk Nickel

'In the years 2018-2019  more than 220 million roubles ($3.5 million) will be allocated to the cleaning of the long-term pollution. 

'We expect that, after carrying out all the planned works, the colouring of the Doldykan River in the period of heavy rains or high water will be minimised.' 

Regional deputy leader Anatoly Samkov warned in 2016: ‘Such violations are one of the facts of environmental mismanagement. 

'The administrative sanctions imposed on the company cannot serve as a serious preventive measure and we will demand the tightening of existing legislation for such cases. 

'We will keep the situation under control.'

Previously Alexei Kiselyov, of Greenpeace Russia, blamed iron salts.

Red soil


Tailings


Tailings


Tailings

Tailing leaks on the area close to Daldykan river. Pictures: Social media

'It was impossible to say if there was damage to local fauna without investigating the site, he said. 

'Results of the tests are needed,' he said.

Locals say the river frequently turned red in Soviet times, but there were no eco-campaigners then to point to environmental damage. 

'It spring, that means the Daldykan turns red', said one longtime resident. 

Others questioned the company's claims that the water was clean.

Comments (1)

Thank you for posting this update and I hope we can continue to follow along with this overall remediation project through its multiple planned steps. I also hope there will be continued official scrutiny and where appropriate, increased legislation/accountability to ensure the clean-up plan is completed and preventative measures in place for current and future operation.
Pamela K Tetarenko, League City, USA
18/06/2018 00:21
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