Russia announces state of emergency after 20,000-tonne oil leak inside Arctic Circle

A diesel power plant owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel collapsed last Friday, leaking the fuel into the Ambarnaya river

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Russia has announced a state of emergency after a 20,000-tonne oil spill has contaminated an area of 135 square miles inside the Arctic Circle.

A diesel power plant owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel collapsed last Friday, leaking the fuel into the Ambarnaya river – the collapse was said to have occurred due to ground subsistence and melting permafrost meaning supporting pillars sunk into the earth they rested on.

Despite the leak happening last week, the power plant’s director Vyacheslav Starostin did not alert Russian authorities for two days and instead tried to limit the spread of the diesel in secret.

He has now reportedly been taken into custody but not charged, and the Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case to investigate alleged negligence.

The fact a state of emergency has been announced means the national government is diverting extra workers to go to the area to participate in the environmental clean-up operation.

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