Russia Temporarily Put a Halt to Parts of Nornickel Power Unit Due to Fuel Spillage
Norilsk 20,000 Ton Oil Spill
The Norilsk diesel oil spill is considered to be another wrath of the year 2020. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the oil spill is an ongoing industrial disaster that took place in Russia. It began on 29th May 2020 when a storage fuel tank at the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy's Thermal Power Plant (NTEK) failed, flooding local lakes and rivers with up to 17,500 tonnes of oil, reported Russian oil news.
The Declaration of State of Emergency After Fuel Spill
According to oil gas news, President Putin declared a state of emergency all across the affected areas in early June. The incident is being described as the second-largest oil spill in Russian history; the first being the 1994 Komi pipeline spill wherein over 400,000 tonnes of crude oil was released between August 1994 and January 1995.
Implications of the Oil Spill
As per oil industry news, more than 17,500 tonnes of diesel oil spilt onto the ground and into the local rivers, contaminating almost 44 acres of land nearby Daldykan River and an extending area of 350 square kilometres. The Russian oil news further reports that the clean-up efforts are declared too tricky as there are no roads nearby and the rivers are too shallow for boats and barges. The estimated cost for such clean-ups would be approximately 10 billion roubles and would take up to 10 years.
Russia's environmental ministry is already reporting contamination levels in the water that is thousands of times higher than the safe limit. Expected repercussions also include dead fish, polluted plumage of birds, and poisoned animals as per Russian oil news.
Temporarily Halt Parts of Nornickel Power Unit
According to the latest oil industry news, the government has ordered NTEK to suspend operations at all six facilities for at least 90 days for violating safety rules that lead to the fuel spill in the Arctic.
Nornickel requested changes to improve safety regulations and is already in its working plan to prepare for the winter season. However, pending investigation results, the operations will remain suspended at all the plants. This decision will not affect the power supply of the region, the latest oil industry news added, meaning production will not be affected.
Rostekhnadzor, the watchdog met with the management of NTEK to discuss the results of an unscheduled audit which had to be conducted after the fuel spill. At which point, the administration of NTEK was warned about the potential for even worse accidents if stringent measures were not taken.
The oil industry news further reported that the company and its specialists are collecting samples of the contaminated soil and fuel from the local rivers in order to determine the clear-up operation time and costs estimation. According to NTEK, over 90% of the fuel has been collected and removed so far. But such havoc takes years to thoroughly wash out and make the water fit for drinking again.
Cause of the 20,000-tonne Spillage
NTEK claims that the accident was caused by a thaw in the permafrost which led to the weakening of the foundations of the storage tank. However, as per the Russian oil news, back in 2014, the company was ordered to clean the outer surface of the walls as well as the roof of the tanks from rust in order to restore the anticorrosion coating. Failing to comply with the request is what is deemed to be the reason for the failure of the tank. The company stated that due to sudden subsidence of supports which served for more than 30 years without even a single problem, the diesel storage tank was somehow damaged, resulting in the fuel leak.
Let's Look at the Aftermath
The investigation committee has opened up a criminal investigation against the company. The head of the power plant was placed in detention, charged with violating environmental regulations and negligence. What made matters worse was that the power plant failed to report the incident for two days, which slowed the response of containment of the leak—post which, the company was ordered to put a halt at all operations.
Putin has now ordered the officials to amend Russian laws to include strict actions and penalties to prevent similar accidents in the future.
Even after the halt of operations, Rostekhnadzor claims that there will be no shortage in supply. Moreover, no matter the cause, the clear-up operation is going to be an unprecedented one for Russia. Let's hope the matter clears up swiftly so Russian citizens can enjoy the beautiful lakes and rivers yet again.