Twenty thousand tonnes of diesel fuel seeped into the Ambarnaya River when a fuel reservoir at a powerplant near the city of Norilsk collapsed. Norilsk is the home to world’s largest producer of nickel and is one of the most polluted places on Earth.
The plant is operated by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, a leading producer of palladium, nickel and copper. The spill was discovered on social media two days after it happened as the Nornickel subsidiary failed to report the incident.
“The leak happened in a remote area, and local communities had not been impacted,” said the company.
President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency to assist with clean-up efforts.
Russia’s Investigative Committee suggested that the volume of the leak overwhelmed the concrete levees intended to contain minor leaks. It has launched a probe into the incident and has detained a manager at the site.
Pumping and inflatable booms are trying to limit the damage, but access is a major problem in the area. The terrain is sub-Arctic and swampy at this time of the year, and specialist vehicles are needed to get around.