SOURCE: Yale e360

DATE: June 9, 2020

SNIP: Diesel fuel from a 21,000-ton oil spill in the Russian Arctic has reached a freshwater lake that serves as a gateway into the Arctic Ocean, Russian officials announced. The spill, one of the largest in Russian history, has contaminated several rivers and tributaries so far, triggering a major clean-up effort and prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare a state of emergency.

The spill, which occurred near the city of Norilsk on May 29, originated from a fuel reservoir at a power plant owned by the metals company Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium. The company said the incident happened as a result of thawing permafrost, which weakened the foundations for the storage tank. But several environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace Russia, said that while global warming likely played a role, the company also has a track record for neglecting its aging infrastructure, The Guardian reported.

Governments officials said the oil has now spread as far as Lake Pyasino, located 12 miles north of Norilsk, Reuters reported. The 45-mile-long lake feeds into the Pyasina River, which flows into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean.

ED NOTE: The government of Norilsk has known about the degradation of infrastructure and the potential for problems for decades and did not do anything to stop the potential for this spill. I also learned from the linked paper that Norilsk was founded as a gulag work camp: a horror in the Arctic from day one.