Russian president Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency Thursday after 20,000 tons of diesel fuel leaked from a power plant storage facility into a river along the Arctic coast during an accident May 29.
The plant, located in the city of Norilsk, is operated by NTEK, a subsidiary of Nornickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium, Fox News reported. The Ambarnaya River was blocked had been obstacles to prevent the spread of the fuel, but tens of thousands of gallons continued to pour into the river.
— The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) June 2, 2020
No official cause for the leak has been determined yet, although it is believed that thawing permafrost caused damage to the storage tank, which then ruptured, according to The Siberian Times.
The diesel had been stored at an outlying facility to ensure a continuous supply of fuel to the NTEK power plant in case the plant was unable to acquire fuel from its conventional sources.
Russia has expanded its Arctic operations in recent years due to the huge amounts of unexplored natural resource deposits in the region, as well as the opportunities for new shipping routes. (RELATED: Trump’s Attempt To End Russia’s Oil Wars Keeps Evolving As Americans Enjoy Rock-Bottom Gas Prices)
Putin slammed NTEK boss Sergie Lipin during a televised video conference Wednesday, expressing his frustration over the slow response to the leak, The Washington Post reported. “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?,” he asked Lipin.
The Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal case Wednesday over the pollution and alleged negligence, and power plant manager Vyacheslav Starostin has been detained by authorities, BBC News reported.