Support The Moscow Times!

Russia Admits to ‘World’s Largest’ Arctic Oil Spill

Some 21,000 tons of oil poured into the surrounding ground and waterways after a diesel oil tank belonging to a subsidiary of Russian metals giant Nornickel collapsed on May 29.  Kirill Kukhmar / TASS

Russian authorities said the fuel spill at an Arctic power station earlier in 2020 was the largest in world history, a top emergencies official said Thursday. 

Some 21,000 tons of oil poured into the surrounding ground and waterways near the city of Norilsk after a diesel oil tank belonging to a subsidiary of Russian metals giant Nornickel collapsed on May 29. 

“Such an amount of liquid diesel fuel has never been spilled in the history of mankind,” the state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted Deputy Emergency Minister Alexander Chupriyan as telling reporters. 

“We already trapped [the fuel] in the Arctic zone,” he said.

A team of Nornickel-funded scientists, meanwhile, struck a more optimistic tone with their discovery of the five polluted rivers’ self-cleaning abilities, according to their final report cited by the state-run TASS news agency Wednesday.

The microflora in the studied waters has adapted to oil products and is able to participate in their decomposition,” said members of the so-called Great Norilsk Expedition organized by the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in August.

Nornickel is currently contesting a $2 billion damages claim with Russia’s state environmental watchdog.

A different Nornickel-commissioned report said last month that the oil spill was “inevitable” due to design flaws, management failures and rising temperatures in the region.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

The Moscow Times’ team of journalists has been first with the big stories on the coronavirus crisis in Russia since day one. Our exclusives and on-the-ground reporting are being read and shared by many high-profile journalists.

We wouldn’t be able to produce this crucial journalism without the support of our loyal readers. Please consider making a donation to The Moscow Times to help us continue covering this historic time in the world’s largest country.