Concerns oil spill from Siberia could reach Arctic Ocean

Concerns oil spill from Siberia could reach Arctic Ocean”

That lake feeds a river that flows into the Kara Sea arm of the Arctic. That could create an ecological catastrophe.

"This is a handsome lake about 70 kilometers [43 miles] long", said Uss, as reported by Interfax. "Naturally, it has both fish and a good biosphere", said Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss, according to Interfax news agency. "But it's impossible to predict how it will bear this brunt now".

Streams have turned blood red by diesel after around 20,000 tonnes of fuel spilled from a tank at a power plant, prompting the president to declare a state of emergency.

The fuel leaked when a storage tank collapsed; prosecutors say that melting permafrost likely caused the collapse. It's reached a pristine lake which serves as a basin for a river flowing into the Arctic Ocean.

Last week, president Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency in the region, and he criticized authorities for what he said was a bungled response to the incident. The oil threatens to contaminate local waterways and the sensitive Arctic ecosystem.

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Norilsk, a remote city of 180,000 situated 300kms (190 miles) inside the Arctic Circle, is built around Norilsk Nickel, the world's leading nickel and palladium producer. The company has been accused of using global warming as an excuse for its inaction.

"This is the biggest accident with the highest-ever volume of oil products spilled in the Polar Arctic", he said.

The company has acknowledged it did not specifically monitor the condition of permafrost at its sites.

Ecologists have said the spill will cause extensive damage to the local environment. One billion Russian rubles is now worth $US14.5 ($21) million dollars.

Plant director Pavel Smirnov, chief engineer Alexei Stepanov and his deputy, Yuri Kuznetsov, have been detained on suspicion of violating environmental regulations, the spokeswoman of Russia's Investigative Committee, Svetlana Petrenko, said Wednesday. If charged, they would risk up to five years in prison.

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