Spilled diesel pollutes the Ambarnaya River in Siberia. - Screencapture Via RT

Spilled diesel pollutes the Ambarnaya River in Siberia.

Screencapture Via RT

President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency in far northern Russia after 20,000 tons of diesel leaked from an industrial power plant, damaging the fragile arctic environment.

As of June 5, 6,730 tons of contaminated soil about 10 kilometers west of Norilsk in Western Siberia has been removed and 400 tons of diesel fuel gathered near the tank it leaked from at the Nadezhdinski Metallurgical Plant. Another 135.4 tons of diesel has been collected from the Ambarnaya River by the Marine Rescue Service.

More than 6,500 square meters along the banks of the river have been treated with sorbents, nearly eight tons of which has been shipped to Norilsk, a press release issued by Norilsk Nickel, owner of Nadezhdinski states.

A team of 78 environmental cleanup experts from Gazprom Neft, one of Russia’s largest oil producers, were expected to arrive Friday with additional equipment to collect fuel from the water surface.

According to Russian-owned RT, the plant’s owner received a dressing down from Putin, who was angered at the slow response to an emergency that originally occurred May 29.

“Are we supposed to learn about emergencies from social media?” Putin reportedly asked the company director. “Are you feeling well over there?”

On 29 May 2020, an incident occurred at the Norilsk plant. Due to sudden subsidence of supports, the 30-year-old diesel fuel storage tank was damaged, resulting in a fuel leak.

A car driving outside the storage depot caught fire due to contact with leaked fuel, causing a fire on an area of around 300 square meters. The fire was successfully contained and extinguished.

By the morning of May 30, Nornickel collected and pumped over 100 tons of fuel in the adjacent area, with the contaminated soil replaced and surface treated with sorbents. All contaminated soil was removed for temporary storage to a land plot with a waterproof coating to prevent the release of petroleum products into the environment.