It is confirmed: 2020 is out to get humanity. From forest fires, a deadly global pandemic, swarms of locusts, protests, riots, and now we’re faced with another huge threat to nature.
A state of emergency was declared by President Vladimir Putin after 20,000 tons of oil spilled into the Arctic. The oil came from a collapsed power plant tank near the city of Norilsk, north of Siberia. Reports say the tank collapsed due to Russia’s alarming permafrost thawing.
The waters of the Ambarnaya River turned a scary shade of crimson, the oil leaking from as far as 11 KM from the site. The Ambarnaya River feeds into Lake Pyasino which then runs into the Kara Sea, the delicate parts of the Arctic Ocean.
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Putin berated company officials of Norilsk Nickel, the subsidiary that owns the power plant. In a live video conference, he asked: “Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact? Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?”
The delay in reporting the incident caused precious time. According to The New York Times, Norilsk Nickel has only managed to gather around 340 tons of oil.
A Dove satellite captured the devastating oil spill in Norilsk, Russia today, June 4, 2020. pic.twitter.com/MDhUYtIqv8
— Planet (@planetlabs) June 4, 2020
Efforts to contain and clean the oil spill are underway but hundreds of personnel are having a difficult time doing so. Andrei Malov, the spokesman for Russia’s Marine Rescue Service, said that a spill this huge is a first for the Arctic and the clean-up crew is in a race against time “because the fuel is dissolving in the water.”
Probably doesn’t even surprise given how 2020 has been so far. 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil spill in the artic circle. Brilliant. Why not eh? pic.twitter.com/ffNkATq9sJ
— Momus Najmi (@MomusNajmi) June 4, 2020
Six oil containment booms, special devices that collect the oil, have been put up to prevent it from spilling farther. Burning the oil is out of the question, says Russia’s environmental watchdog chief Svetlana Radionova.
Putin has called for Russia’s Investigative Committee to launch probes into environmental pollution and violations of Norilsk Nickel’s safety rules.
The power plant manager, Vyacheslav Starostin, has been taken into custody but has yet to be charged.