An environmental group described the damage as “catastrophic” and said the concentration of pollutants in nearby waters had already exceeded the approved level by several thousand times, according to the Russian environmental agency Rosprednadzor.
Power plant workers first tried to spread the word on their own and did not report the incident for two days in a state of emergency, as shown during a meeting on Wednesday chaired by Emergency Situations Ministry chief Agnieszka Zinichev Butin and on national television.
“So what, we’re going to find out about the emergency from social media now? Are you okay?” Putin said the governor of Krasnoyarsk, Alexander Us, and the directors of the Norilsk-Taimir energy company, which runs the station, were chipping in to respond to the delay after local authorities learned of the spread on social media.
Russia’s top law enforcement agency, Investigative Committee, said on Tuesday that a criminal investigation had been launched into the 20,000-ton diesel fuel in the Norilsk River due to an “unexplained disconnection” of a storage tank.
According to Russia’s state news agency TASS, the energy agency’s parents, Nornikel, said the foundation of the storage tank may have sunk due to the permafrost leak, and rising global warming highlights the risks to the Arctic infrastructure and ecosystem.
According to TASS, Sergei Diachenko, Chief Operating Officer of Nornikkel, said, “At the moment we can assume … Permafrost could have melted due to the unusually mild summer temperatures recorded in previous years, and the pillars at the bottom of the platform would have sunk,” said TERS . News agency.
North Asia, especially above the Arctic Circle of Siberia, has seen the most common temperature on the planet in 2020. During the first four months of the year, the average temperature in the region was 4 degrees Celsius higher than normal.
Scientists say the Arctic region is on average twice as fast as the rest of the planet, as a result of global warming.
Local authorities say it could take weeks for the cleanup to begin at this speed because the area lacks the efficiency to use so much fuel, the river is impassable and there are no roads around it. Additional teams of experts from other regions are being deployed after the emergency.
“This incident has led to catastrophic consequences, and we will see the consequences in the next few years,” Sergei Varkhovets, Russia’s WWF branch coordinator for the Arctic project, said in a statement. “We’re talking about dead fish, contaminated bird plumage and poisonous animals.”