The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, declared a state of emergency on June 3, after 20,000 tons of oil products spilled in a region of northern Siberia (Reuters). A fuel tank, owned by the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer, Norilsk Nickel, lost pressure on May 29, 2020 (NYT). The accident was apparently triggered by melting permafrost, which caused the concrete foundation under the tank to crack and leak the oil (AP). The former deputy head of Russia’s environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, Oleg Mitvol, estimated that the clean-up could cost “100bn rubles ($1.5bn USD),” and take between 5 and 10 years to complete (BBC).
The spill leaked into the river of Ambarnaya and oil drifted about “12km (7.5 miles) from the site,” (BBC). Most of the river turned crimson as a result of the oil. The Russian Investigative Committee, a law enforcement agency, said that the spill contaminated 350 square kilometers (135 sq. miles) and caused a fire (USA Today). Greenpeace has compared this accident to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska (BBC).