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article imagePutin orders state of emergency after oil spill in Arctic Circle

By Karen Graham     Jun 4, 2020 in World
Norilsk - A massive oil spill in Siberia is being called "Russia's Exxon Valdez"—and Vladimir Putin is furious with a company that allegedly failed to report it. Putin declared a state of emergency in the region Wednesday.
Authorities are saying that a fuel reservoir at a power plant near the Siberian city of Norilsk collapsed last Friday, dumping 20,000 tons of diesel fuel into the Ambarnaya River, north of the Arctic Circle - turning broad stretches of it red.
The power plant is owned by a subsidiary of Nornickle, which is the world's leading nickel and palladium producer. It is also ranked among the world's top ten copper producers.
Nornickle is one of Russia's most polluting companies, releasing approximately 1.67 million tons of harmful sulfur dioxide into the air every year, making the city of Norilsk one of the most polluted places on Earth.
Officials said Krasnoyarsk governor Alexander Uss only found out about the spill on Sunday, two days after it happened, when "alarming information appeared in social media." On Wednesday,
Putin, in a videoconference that was broadcast on Russian television, lambasted the head of the Nornickle subsidiary, NTEK, after officials said the company failed to report the incident.
The Ambarnaya River is a shallow river that meanders across the tundra in the Arctic Circle.
The Ambarnaya River is a shallow river that meanders across the tundra in the Arctic Circle.
“Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact? Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media? Are you quite healthy over there?” the Russian president told Sergei Lipin, the head of NTEK, reports The Guardian.
Three criminal investigations have been launched over the incident, while the power plant's director Vyacheslav Starostin has been taken into custody until 31 July, but not yet charged.
Alexei Knizhnikov of the World Wildlife Fund said the environmental group was the one who alerted cleanup specialists after confirming the accident through its sources. “These are huge volumes,” he said. “It was difficult for them to cover it up.”
According to the BBC, the leaked oil drifted some 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the accident site, contaminating a 350 sq km (135 sq mile) area and turning long stretches of the Ambarnaya river crimson red.
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