“A month after the oil spill in the Arctic, another plant owned by the Russian mining company Nornickel has caused massive pollution. Thousands of cubic meters of sewage from an ore-processing plant were fed into the soil of the Siberian tundra for “several hours,” Russian news agency Interfax reported. Several employees at the plant have been suspended over the incident, according to the company.
The incident took place at the Talnach enrichment plant near the arctic city of Norilsk. About 6,000 cubic meters of a chemical used to process minerals were discharged into the environment for hours, Interfax reported, citing an unspecified source. It is uncertain how far the waste water has spilled into the environment. The Crime Investigation Committee launched an investigation.
The anti-government newspaper Novaya Gazeta published videos of large metal pipes from which a highly foaming liquid flows into the environment. The factory intentionally discharged the sewage into nature and then hastily removed the pipes when investigators arrived, the newspaper reported.
The Prosecutor’s Office of the Krasnoyarsk Region opened an investigation into the illegal disposal of toxic liquid waste. Nornickel admitted errors. According to this, water from the Talnach enrichment plant near Norilsk was “drained from a reservoir”. “Measures have been taken to stop the discharge into the nearby area.” Group spokeswoman Tatyana Egorova said it was already cleared sewage.
At the same time, the company statement referred to an “outrageous violation of operating rules”. Several employees have therefore been suspended and an internal investigation has been launched.
A company spokeswoman said it was already cleared sewage. Several employees have been suspended over the incident. Russia’s Natural Resources Agency said the water from the plant had been drained after heavy rains threatened flooding.
“This is a crime against nature and against our children,” said Vasily Rjabkin, a former employee of the local Environmental Protection Agency. He had made the new scandal public with activists from the environmental organization Greenpeace and the newspaper.
The waters near the Arctic Ocean are currently struggling with the aftermath of the oil spill at the end of May, when 21,000 tons of oil spilled. There, in a combined heat and power plant near the town of Norilsk, a huge tank had apparently fallen and broken through the thawing permafrost floor. The oil stains could be seen from space. Experts spoke of the biggest oil spill in the Russian Arctic.
According to Greenpeace, conservationists and opposition politician Sergei Mitrochin wanted to take soil samples to Moscow over the weekend. However, they were stopped at the airport, which is also part of Nornickel, and prevented from transporting the samples. Greenpeace criticised the efforts to obstruct the investigation of the disaster.
Novaya Gazeta also posted a photo of a bulldoder flattening a police car in an accident. It was not intentional, it was said. The vehicle was parked there after concerned citizens alerted the police, civil protection, environmental regulators and prosecutors about the new environmental scandal.