Scientists Wrap Up Data Collection at Site of Oil Spill Accident in Russia's Norilsk

MOSCOW, September 2- The team of scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian branch said on Wednesday they had completed the collection of probes from the site of a diesel fuel spill in Norilsk, a city on Siberia’s Taymyr peninsula, and are set to begin the laboratory studies. The scientific expedition was arranged by Russia’s Norilsk Nickel mining…

MOSCOW, September 2 (Sputnik) – The team of scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ (RAS) Siberian branch said on Wednesday they had completed the collection of probes from the site of a diesel fuel spill in Norilsk, a city on Siberia’s Taymyr peninsula, and are set to begin the laboratory studies.

The scientific expedition was arranged by Russia’s Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) mining company, whose subsidiary was responsible for the spill, as part of an independent inquiry that it launched after disagreeing with Russian environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor’s official estimate of 148 billion rubles ($2 billion) in damage.

“Scientists from 14 institutes of the RAS Siberian branch have collected several thousands of probes of water and soil and samples of living organisms as well as conducted instrument measurements in Taymyr. Now the most important and crucial stage of the expedition begins — laboratory research and complex data analysis,” the expedition’s press service said.

According to the press release, the expedition will release a report on its findings in December. It is expected to include not only an assessment of the oil spill’s scope of damage but also work out sustainable and safe models of human-nature interaction in the Arctic and make recommendations to the government based on the findings.

Some 21,000 metric tons of diesel fuel leaked from a thermal power plant of one of Nornickel’s subsidiaries — the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company — into an Arctic river in Norilsk on May 29. The suspected cause of the spill was purportedly the melting of permafrost that supports the faulty power plant’s fuel tank in motion.

Rosprirodnadzor has launched its own inquiry into the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company and found more than 100 violations, the watchdog said on Wednesday.

“The inquiry found 116 violations of the Russian law on environmental protection, protection of water resources, waste production and consumption,” Rosprirodnadzor said in a press release.

The watchdog pointed, in particular, to the lack of adequate leakage control systems at the facility to ensure the early detection of an oil spill and a subsequent timely response.

Additionally, the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company has not duly renovated and repaired its oil processing facilities, which were built in the 1950-1970 period. As a result, the company’s key equipment — including tankers, pipes and pumping devices — was outdated and worn out, Rosprirodnadzor said.

The watchdog vowed to pull administrative levers to make the company address the detected violations.

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