An environmental group has described the damage as “catastrophic”, and the concentration of pollutants in neighboring waters has already exceeded permissible levels tens of thousands of times, according to the Russian Environmental Agency Rosprirodnadzor.
The head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Evgeniy Zinchev, said at a meeting on Wednesday chaired by Putin and shown on national television, that the power plant employees originally tried to contain the leak by themselves and did not report the emergency services to the accident for two days.
“So what, will we learn about emergencies from social media now? Are you okay there?” Speaking critical of the Krasnoyarsk governor, Alexander Aws and the directors of the Norilsk-Temer Power Company, which runs the plant, Putin said of the late response after the local authorities learned about the leak from social media.
The investigation commission, Russia’s highest law enforcement agency, said on Tuesday that a criminal investigation had been launched into 20,000 tons of diesel fuel leaking into the Norilsk River after “undue pressure” was stored in the storage tank.
Norenkle, the parent company of the energy company, said the storage tank establishment may have sunk due to permanent thawing, highlighting the increased risks of warming posed by arctic infrastructure and ecosystems, according to Russian news agency TASS.
“We can now assume … that due to the abnormally moderate temperatures in summer that were recorded in past years, the permafrost could have melted and the columns under the platform could have sunk,” said Sergey Dyachenko, chief operating officer of Nornickel. “. news agency.
North Asia, especially over the Arctic Circle in Siberia, experienced temperatures higher than normal on the planet so far in 2020. During the first four months of the year, the region experienced temperatures above 4 ° C above normal.
Scientists say the Arctic region is increasing on average twice the speed of the rest of the planet as a result of global warming.
The local authorities said that the leak may take weeks to start the cleaning process as the region lacks experience in using these quantities of fuel, and the river is not navigable and there are no roads surrounding it. Additional groups of experts are being deployed from other regions after the emergency.
“The accident has led to catastrophic consequences and we will see repercussions for years to come,” Sergei Verkhovits, Arctic Projects Coordinator at the WWF branch in Russia, said in a statement. “We are talking about dead fish and contaminated feathers for birds and poisonous animals.”