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article imageRussian Arctic oil spill now threatens Arctic Ocean

By Karen Graham     Jun 10, 2020 in Environment
Floating barriers hastily laid across rivers in the far north of Russia have failed to contain a major diesel fuel spill that has now spread to a lake near the Arctic Ocean and is threatening to flow into the Arctic Ocean.
The diesel fuel spill happened on or about May 29 when a storage tank at a power plant near Norilsk sank because of melting permafrost, which weakened its supports. Some 21,000 tons or 150,000 barrels of diesel fuel contaminated the Ambarnaya river and marshy wilderness.
Environmental groups are likening the oil spill to the Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska in 1989, noting how this highlights the risks of industrial development in the now thawing Arctic due to climate change. Climate change is warming the Arctic at a rate that is about twice as fast as the rest of the Earth.
Emergency workers deployed booms to contain the diesel fuel on the Ambarnaya River, which is a tributary of Lake Pyasino, further to the North. The lake feeds a river that flows into the Kara Sea arm of the Arctic. The barriers have not worked very well - as the fuel has seeped into the marshy riverbanks and continues to spread.
Svetlana Radionova, the head of Russia's natural resources agency Rosprirodnadzor, has denied that any fuel has reached the lake, according to Deutsche Welle. But local inspectors are saying the testing being done by the state agency is not adequate and the lake is probably contaminated.
"The fuel has got into Lake Pyasino," said Alexander Uss, governor of Krasnoyarsk region, reports the BBC. "This is a beautiful lake about 70 kilometers [45 miles] long. Naturally, it has both fish and a good biosphere. Now it's important to prevent it from getting into the Pyasina river, which flows north. That should be possible."
The fuel spill was declared a federal emergency on June 3 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Monday, the Ministry for Development of the Far East and the Arctic announced it was planning to roll out a monitoring system for changes in permafrost in the region.
More about Environment, Russia, Pollution, Oil spill, Permafrost
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