Another Chemical Leak in Krasnoyarsk Territory

Another Chemical Leak in Krasnoyarsk Territory


A new environmental disaster occurred in the Krasnoyarsk territory. Tanks with hazardous chemicals leaked at a bankrupt polysilicone plant. After the liquidation procedure, the enterprise was put on the books of the Federal Property Management Agency. In reality, this wording most likely means that it has been “unattended.” wrote about this complicated situation a year ago. The polycrystalline silicon plant was built in 2008 on the premises of the Mining and Chemical Works in Zheleznogorsk (Krasnoyarsk-26). Rosatom viewed it as an advanced enterprise in the global solar energy industry. However, the “invisible hand of the market” collapsed polysilicon prices dozens of times in a matter of months. After that, the plant became “a neglected child.” It was taken over by the Konti group of companies and collapsed entirely along with Konti. The holding tried to backpedal on the deal and return the plant's shares to the state but failed.

One way or another, after the liquidation of the plant, its shops were taken over by the Federal Property Management Agency. It became the owner of the facility only on paper. In reality, Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Works (MCW) took care of the protection and maintenance of the plant as there is much to protect there. In particular, the storage facility where trichlorosilane, required for polysilicon production, is kept. This is a hazardous chemical substance that can form toxic fumes and explode in case of leakage. Such a leak occurred on December 14.

According to the MCW press service, trichlorosilane began leaking from connection pipes under the tanks. Serious consequences were avoided as there are special trays underneath, and the chemical substances did not get into the soil. The timely discovery of the leak and repairs also helped. The whole MCW administrative building which is located close to the storage had to be evacuated.

The regional government held an urgent meeting. The situation was found outrageous. Frankly speaking, it was the same situation a year ago when a commission visited the MCW. Back then, officials also called for a solution of the problem. A year flew by and containers with trichlorosilane finally corroded. However, government bodies still can't decide who should take responsibility.

“Last summer I sent letters to the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage (Rosprirodnadzor) asking them to take action against the management of the enterprise and the officials in charge. The prosecutor's office revealed “prolonged inaction” by the officials. As we can see, it didn’t help to solve the problem,” State Duma deputy Sergei Natarov told “A check last August showed that the tanks could no longer be used but they were not in a critical condition at the time. Now, they are. This is what happens when officials do not pay attention. The Federal Property Management Agency (Rosimushchestvo) first wrote letters, then it was occupied with its’ head arrest, and now there is an accident. All this could have been avoided. We could have avoided spending the reserve fund and endangering the lives and health of firefighters,” says Alexei Kulesh, deputy speaker of the regional parliament.

The territorial department of Rosimushchestvo is still functioning without senior executives. Its head Vladimir Abramov and his deputy Igor Kornienko were arrested in early October. They were caught red-handed in confiscations and put in a pretrial detention center. They signed a state contract with a local company and took a bribe for it. Abramov had been the head of the department since 2009.

The reaction of Alexander Uss, Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, deserves special attention. He asked the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Rosprirodnadzor, and the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) to make a list of priority measures and immediately start their implementation. The head of the territory does not even count on Rosimushchestvo.

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