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State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system

By Svetlana Skarbo
02 June 2020

Fear that thawing permafrost caused damage to storage tank.

The exact reason of the leak is yet to be established, but a statement from Norilsk Nickel company, which operates the site suggests it could have been caused - worryingly - by collapsing permafrost. Picture of a 'river of fuel' from social media 

A state of emergency was introduced in Norilsk, Russia’s nickel capital, after almost 20,000 tons of diesel burst out of a reserve fuel tank at the TPP-3 industrial site. 

The fuel was stored there to ensure continuous supply to the power plant in case of an interruption in gas supplies.

The leak was on 29 May in the Kayerkan district of Norilsk, and the pictures show its dramatic impact. 

The exact reason of the leak is yet to be established, but a statement from Norilsk Nickel company, which operates the site suggests it could have been caused - worryingly - by collapsing permafrost. 

‘Due to sudden subsidence of supports which served for more than 30 years without problems, the diesel fuel storage tank was damaged, resulting in a fuel leak’, said a statement from Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest producer of palladium and Russia’s leading nickel mining and smelting company.

A car driving outside the storage depot caught fire due to contact with leaked fuel, prompting initial reports about the vehicle had crashed into it, causing a fire and leak. 

State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system


State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system


State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system


State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system

60km long Ambarnaya River flows into Lake Pyasino; the Pyasina River outflows this lake into the Kara Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean. Pictures: social media, The Siberian Times


Marine rescuers from Murmansk were flown into Norilsk to help mitigate consequences of the ecological catastrophe.

Diesel leaked into the 60km long Ambarnaya River which flows into Lake Pyasino.

The Pyasina River outflows this lake into the Kara Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean.

State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system. Video from a local residents shows the extent of pollution as he dips a piece of newspaper into a mixture of river water and fuel, and sets it on fire. Pictures: Norilsk Nickel, Svetlana Radionova


State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system


State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system


State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system


State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system


State of emergency in Norilsk after 20,000 tons of diesel leaks into Arctic river system

Comments (18)

I have no doubt, the problem will be fixed, though the time it's going to take in cleaning up can take ages. Having said that, from the flow of the spread, will over take the efforts, and will not be fast enough before it flows into the pacific ocean. this is a real mess, first by air and now by water....#$%^&*()_&*()_ from "past and present events" WE KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING."
Virgil A. Quintanilla, U.S. San Francisco Ca.
21/06/2020 13:03
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0
Dave Pence what a giant mistake. Think about what the letters "perma" stand for. Right, we have a winner! What makes permafrost soil special is the fact, that it is (at least is for quite some 10000 years) and should stay PERMANENTLY FROZEN. If not so, we have permafrost soil everywhere where it gets cold sometimes, right? Think about it, even in Texas......
Phil Geller, Munich Germany
09/06/2020 19:48
1
2
Pedeapsă, apoi să fie eliminate Nornickel și NTEK.
Iurie Bobeică , Moldova
09/06/2020 17:48
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@deve pence. Climate is a long term process, weather is what you get today. In Texas the climate is generally considered hot and dry, but the weather can be rainy tomorrow without that you need to change the definition of Texas' climate into a wet and rainy region. So, wrong, climate is something, weather is something else.
The permafrost does not melt in summer and freeze in winter. That is the "active layer" on the surface. The permafrost (say it slow: perma (like permanent) frost (like frozen)) stays permanently frozen, in summer too. Unless the climate, slowly, year after year, changes. So, wrong again, the permafrost does not melt according to the seasons.
And this does not change if the world "was created" or if the "world formed".
jacopo pasotti, Switzerland
09/06/2020 13:38
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Hi,
mabe this would help you with the clean-up. https://www.presseportal.de/pm/24954/3627175 the artikel is in german, but the video show how to get oil out of water with a special absorbent cotton - here is how is works as well in english https://shop.deurexpure.com/#applications

Good luck
Simone, Berlin
09/06/2020 12:33
4
1
OK what about the clean up? I see floating barriers in place but then what? I this a disaster that will be delt with?

I read amongst the comments that a company can clean this up ! So hopefully it can be done sooner than later!

Amazing colour shots!
Marg, Australia
06/06/2020 04:01
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@Andrea from Brescia , the Ambarnaya River is already a biologically dead flow, if I well remember all long since 1969. The first wave of oil has been received by the River Daldykan, which is just a little more than a creek. Both rivers, however, are commonly extremely polluted.

@Dave Pence, permafrost means permanently frozen. Climate change, whatever a natural process or not, is more intense at the higher latitudes . The phenomenon is well known in Russia and this is the reason why the minister of mine resourses Dmytry Kobylmin rejected the reason taken by the Norilsk-Taymir firm CEO Sergey Lipin of the collapse due to a melting permafrost .


@ Argelia Escamilla. Bueno, Argelia. En este caso ya tenemos un preso, el señor Vyacheslav Starostin, responsable jefe del emplanto de manutencion. Y tambien para el CEO de la firma Norilsk-Taymir señor Lipin no pasará mucho tiempo libre, siendo el acusado formalmente por negligencia en los articulos del codico penal ruso 246, 250 y 254. Putin mismo, hablando directamente en teleconferencia con Lipin ha preguntado: "¿Señor Lipin, como se siente en salud?"

For all others.

The gasoil in itself is already a huge problem but this type of gasoil is added by anti-ice substances able to stand a typical winter temp of -55deg Celsius.

Benzene, toluene, ethilbenzene and xylene the main adictives. Those substances are soluble into water and there's no way to intercept them with solid barriers.
patrick petrovic, italia
05/06/2020 12:57
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Diesel is a lot worse than crude oil, much harder to clean up and worse environmental damage.
Barry the Hick, Bumpkintown, Australia
05/06/2020 09:20
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So sad to see this..... I’m afraid we might see a lot more like this as permafrost and the Arctic melts Really would be nice to see the world leaders pull it together and turn to alternatives form of energy to save these beautiful places
Jenni K, Santa Margarita
05/06/2020 08:13
2
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Chris, it sounds like you must be an employee (apologist) for the Norilsk Nickel company. If you fail to anticipate what could happen in all potential scenarios and the impact of storing diesel fuel adjacent to a river, then you truly are a failure.
SteveC, Odessa FL USA
05/06/2020 01:16
2
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we are the dealer of EFINOR SEACLEANER, and sold to big harbours (Rotterdam/Amsterdam) but also smaller (Brussels, Huy, Paris...) and specialize in quick intervention ships from small (6 m) to big (40 m) to fight again oil spill. We helped in oilspill of Deep Water Horizon (USA) and ahave already ships everywhere in the world. Our advantage is that we are not creating emulsion when recovering oil. Our smallest boats (from 6 to 10m) can be taken behind 4x4 and is able to recover up to 50 m³/h of oil or hydrocarbon (50.000 liters/h !!!) with patented systems. But we are not present in Siberia nor in Russia. Pls contact us (info@techmas.com ) . Investement remain reasonable and boats are multipurpose service boats
TECHMAS, Belgium
04/06/2020 22:30
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Ancora una volta la nostra terra viene deturpata .vergognoso ed inquietante!
Luca, Brescia Italia
04/06/2020 22:27
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The climate is always changing since the world was created, it's called WEATHER. Scientists do not agree about any of this. To say the permofrost is melting is ridiculous because it's summer now, think about it, it just turns back to ice when it gets back to winter again. Don't belive this so called "NEWS" the climate is always changing, next theyll tell you htis flu virus is from the climate changing.
Dave Pence, San Antonio, TEXAS
04/06/2020 21:50
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Common sense would of told you that if a system that depends heavily on natural stability was put under stress ...say idk massive uptick in global warming conditions .. than that system would need constant monitoring and testing . If it can’t be deemed safe then this system can’t be used . Like the dumbest thing I ever heard , why is anyone here even surprised ?
Gabriel, New york
04/06/2020 13:53
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Steve do you understand what permafrost is? These tanks are buried underground. The outside walls of these tanks can not be inspected as they are covered by frozen earth. This tank operated without issue for 30 years - there was nothing wrong with it. When the tank was installed the permafrost would have been tested and deemed strong enough to support the tank. When it melts it can no longer support the weight and results in damage to the tank. They don't mention any of this in the article because most people have common sense and can figure things out on their own.
Chris, Ontario, Canada
04/06/2020 04:12
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12

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