Arctic Circle

Russia Launches Major Clean-Up Operation After Huge Arctic Fuel Spill

“Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?” and angry President Vladimir Putin asked

A helicopter view of the site of a diesel fuel spill at Norilsk's Combined Heat and Power Plant
Andrei MarmyshevTASS via Getty Images

A major clean-up operation has been launched in Siberia after more than 15,000 tons of diesel fuel was released into a river above the Arctic circle ⁠— threatening a pristine territory through a series of lakes and tributaries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a federal emergency Wednesday after berating Siberian officials for their slow response to the accident which took place near the city of Norilsk on May 29. While the majority went into the river, a further 5,000 tons of diesel was released onto land.

Describing it as “the first ecological incident of such a large scale above the Arctic circle,” Greenpeace Russia has warned that it could contaminate a vast swath of Russia’s Arctic for years if not properly contained.

Due to the remote nature of the incident, news of the disaster was slow to trickle out and reach Moscow.

The regional governor of Krasnoyarsk, Alexander Uss, said in the meeting that he only became aware of the situation on Sunday after “alarming information appeared in social media." Other officials echoed his claim.

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