Arctic oil spill in Russia pollutes big lake near Norilsk

A handout picture made available by the press service of the Public Joint Stock Company 'Transneft' shows an aerial view of rescue works the site of oil products spill into the Ambarnaya river outside of Norilsk, Russia. EPA-EFE/Transneft PJSC HANDOUT

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Diesel oil from a huge spill in Russia’s Arctic north has polluted a large freshwater lake and there is a risk it could spread into the Arctic Ocean, a senior Russian official says.

Emergency teams are trying to contain the oil, which has now travelled about 20km (12 miles) north of Norilsk from a collapsed fuel tank.

It is the worst accident of its kind in modern times in Russia’s Arctic region, environmentalists and officials say.

The oil started leaking on 29 May.

So far about 21,000 tonnes have contaminated the Ambarnaya river and surrounding subsoil.

Investigators believe the storage tank near Norilsk sank because of melting permafrost, which weakened its supports. The Arctic has had weeks of unusually warm weather, probably a symptom of global warming.

The power plant where it happened is run by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.

Read more via BBC

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