In this photo provided by the Russian Marine Rescue Service, rescuers work to prevent the spread of an oil spill outside Norilsk, Russia, on June 2.

Dangerous leakage of Arctic diesel fuel (opinion)

Nurinkle, the parent company of Norilsk-Timer Energy, which operates the station, said the accident may have been caused by the storage tank sinking due to permafrost melting, according to Russian news agency TASS.

As a world of oil spillage, I see unique risks in the Arctic. This spill is a warning of an unstable future for which we are no longer prepared.

When I learn about the oil spill, I immediately ask two questions: What is the type of spilled oil and where does it leak? Crude oil, spilled in Exxon Valdez (1989) and Deepwater Horizon (2010), is thicker and more stable, but this makes it clear, easy to track, and clean.

Crude oil spills can be Surrounded by auxiliary mutations – Large floating barriers – Equipped with equipment that actually removes oil from water. Things covered with crude oil can be removed along the beaches.

Diesel oil spilled in the Arctic disaster is less viscous and difficult to contain and recover. Once the oil is in the water, the plants and animals will find themselves coated in a layer of powerful hydrocarbons. Pound vs. pound In the short term, diesel fuel is much more deadly than crude oil and can cause lasting damage longer.

Then there is the “where” part of my first question. With oil spills, it’s all about the site. Among the worst places where a diesel spill can occur is a closed body of water, such as a slow-flowing river or an inlet. I studied three spills like this.

In September 1969, Install the battleship In Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, pouring diesel’s Causing Massive deaths from marine spirits and marsh grass in bays similar to those along the Arctic coast.
Residents still refer to the “silent fall” that was followed by the lack of bird life in the area that season. It took up to five years For the growth of swamp herbs, after 50 years, herbs, crabs and mussels in the region still show harmful effects from leakage.
While the overall volume of about 5 million gallons is dwarfed by the 11 and 168 million gallons emitted by the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters, respectively, the “what” and “where” leakage will result in a much larger relative amount of damage.
Despite the similarities with Cape Cod, North Pole An unknown area for oil spill responders. Unlike the coasts here or in the Gulf of Mexico, we did not map the seafloor in the Arctic Ocean or archaeological currents in detail. Its weather is harder especially in winter. We also know very little about its fragile and complex ecosystem.
On top of all this, the vast remote Arctic region suffers from unique logistical problems. It has a limited number of ports, roads and airports, and is available to bring in equipment and supplies, responders and scientists – and a few places to house and feed the people who appear to help. On Friday, TASS reported that the first stage of the cleaning process had been completed.

The Deepwater Horizon spill was a huge challenge, but existing infrastructure and easy access in the Gulf of Mexico were helpful in cleaning efforts. Little of this infrastructure is in the Arctic.

All of these things mean that we have a great learning curve ahead of us and a short time to navigate. The Siberian River region of Siberia will have to do what responders can manage in a hurry and with the ticking of the clock. But it almost certainly will not be the last leak that we hear about in the Arctic.

Warming temperatures mean that more ship traffic will soon pass the northern corridor between Europe and Asia – diesel ships and other refined fuels. High temperatures also mean more permanent thaw, making the soil move and collapse and putting infrastructure, such as the Russian fuel tank, at increased risk.

The world is fraught with dangers that we would have been more prepared for. To this list, we need to add Arctic vulnerability to oil spills. We need insight, will and investment to develop strategies and policies to reduce the costs and impacts of future spills – to prepare effective responses now to the inevitable oil spills in the Arctic, and not to react to them after they occur.

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