On May 29, the combined heat and power plant CHPP-3 in Norilsk in the Krasnoyarsk territory has sustained damage that resulted in an impressive spill of diesel fuel. RIA Novosti reported that according to preliminary data, on June 4, about 21,000 m3 of diesel fuel poured out of the reservoir. Then it got into the Ambarnaya river and polluted the soil.
Russian President’s Reaction
Vladimir Putin strongly criticized the report, presented by the Krasnoyarsk territory Governor, Alexander Uss, at a meeting on the response to the emergency situation in Norilsk, the center of non-ferrous metallurgy inside the Arctic circle in the north of Siberia. The Russian President was particularly outraged by the fact that the local authorities learnt about the disaster from social media only a couple of days later.
“Why did the authorities learn about it only two days after the event?” Putin asked Uss straightforwardly. “Are we going to get information about emergencies from social nets? Are you all right in there?”
The Russian President instructed Yevgeny Zinichev, the Minister of Emergency Situations, to present a report on the progress of the elimination of emergency on June, 5. According to RIA Novosti, after the meeting in Norilsk, Zinichev said that a solution had been found to mitigate the effects of the diesel fuel spill. He gave no specifics, noting only that oil products would not be burned.
Russian President instructed the Prosecutor General's Office to monitor the situation around the emergency spill of diesel fuel on the territory of the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company. Additionally, Vladimir Putin ordered Alexander Novak, the Minister of Energy, to start eliminating the consequences of the accident immediately.
Actions Of Prosecutor General's Office
According to the Prosecutor General's Office, the accident took place at 12:35 on May 29. Diesel fuel spilled onto the access road leading to the combined heating and power plant. It supplies electricity, heat and water to enterprises and institutions in the Norilsk industrial area where the port towns of Igarka and Dudinka, and the villages of Snezhnogorsk and Svetlogorsk are located. As a result of the accident, fuel turned up in the Ambarnaya river, from which water flows to one of the residential areas of Norilsk. Pyasino lake and the Pyasina river, which flows into the Kara Sea, were also polluted.
After the local authorities learned about the emergency from social nets, Norilsk’s Prosecutor came to the scene of the accident. Together with other officials he did an aerial inspection of the contaminated zone. According to the results of inspection by the Prosecutor's Office, several criminal cases were initiated.
The Prosecutor General's Office reported that the head of the boiler-and-turbine shop of CHPP-3 was detained as a suspect. The local department of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) was instructed to carry out an unscheduled inspection at this plant. The Prosecutor General's Office clarified that pursuant to the Russian President’s instructions, this situation is currently under the control of this watchdog agency.
Decades are Needed to Restore Ecobalance
The Internet was flooded with numerous images of the Ambarnaya river, where the water became reddish-brown. According to RIA Novosti, there is a 4-to-5 cm thick film of oil products on the river. The banks of the river are also covered with oil film at a distance of 2 or 3 meters from the water's edge. According to Rosprirodnadzor, no pollution was detected on Pyasino lake.
The Federal Agency For Fisheries (Rosrybolovstvo) called this emergency an environmental disaster. According to the agency, it might take more than a dozen years to restore the Norilsk-Pyasinsk water system. In addition, according to preliminary data, the zone of soil contamination with the fuel is about 180,000 m².
Murmansk Emergency Response Group Helps Norilsk
On June 1, at the invitation of the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company, the staff of the marine rescue service from Murmansk arrived at the scene and immediately began collecting and removing contaminated soil, as well as pumping out spilled fuel.
What Happened Indeed?
The local branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation (EMERCOM) reported that on May, 29, there was a fire on the territory of CHPP-3 in Norilsk that embraced an area of 350 m². According to EMERCOM, the fire occurred after a truck crashed into the reservoir with diesel fuel for the yet unknown reasons. There were no injured people, so the plant continued normal operations.
Meanwhile, according to the Investigative Committee, the fuel tank had been depressurized at CHPP-3. As a result, the fuel had spilled on the haul road, and a car passing along caught fire.
According to one of the versions of the accident, the reservoir was depressurized because the foundation piers, which had served for more than 30 years, sagged.
It is noteworthy that Nornickel, a Russian nickel and palladium mining and smelting corporation, did not report the incident for the first two days, trying to eliminate the consequences of the diesel fuel spill on its own.