Oil Spill Raises Concerns As It Makes Russia’s Arctic Rivers Run Red

by Conscious Reminder 

2020 has so far been a series of unfortunate events. Joining the long list of strange occurrences is a river in Russia that ran red.

Norilsk, a Siberian city in Russia, witnessed an apocalypse-like occurrence when the river running across the city turned red in color. Apparently, a power plant in the area had an accident where at least 20,000 tons of diesel oil was spilled in the river, resulting in the color change.

The power plant is a subunit of Nornickel. The factory is infamous for making the area one of the heaviest polluted regions in the world.

On Wednesday, in a virtual press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the power plant for failing to report the accident. Putin has also called in a state of emergency for the same.

He mentioned that the NTEK oil spill was one of the worst the country has seen. He chided Sergei Lipin, NTEK chief, saying that it was abominable that the government had to find out about the situation through social media.

Nornickel enjoys the position of a metal producing giant across the globe. The company, in their defense, said that the accident was caused by unusually high temperatures in the arctic this year.

They stated that the oil spill took place after their storage tanks were tilted because the foundation had sunk. The region recorded an all-time high temperature of 25C last month. The area most affected lies 199 miles from the Arctic and 1,800 miles from Moscow.

Drone images of the red river look otherworldly. The river Daldykan and Ambarnaya can be seen as a mixture of blue and red. The oil spill additionally adds a sparkle to the rivers. Because of this brightness, satellite images by Russia’s Yandex Maps (a version similar to Google Maps) show the rivers red from space.

Aleksey Knizhnikov, Russian director for The World Wildlife Fund, said that the workers were working tirelessly to stop any more oil from running into the river.

Unfortunately, Knizhnikov added that the most toxic part of the fuel has already dissolved in the water and is now irretrievable. The negative environmental effect of this spill will be huge. WWF has been assisting Russia in containing the oil spill disaster.

Around 100 tons of diesel has been taken out of the river. An additional group of emergency staff of 100 has also been deployed in the area.

Dmitry Kobylkin, Russia’s Environment Minister, stated that the cleanup operation was too huge to be handled by anyone but the emergency ministry and the military.

Some people suggested that burning the fuel would separate it from the river. But the Environment Minister disagreed, saying that it was too much of a risk. Given that the region is close to the Arctic circle, a river fire would only lead to further disasters.

Cleanup operations on both the rivers were extremely difficult because the rivers are shallow. Big barges are not suitable to clean up the 20,000-ton oil spill. Furthermore, the locations that the rivers cover are too remote and do not have road connectivity.

Norilsk Nickel has had a power plant in the area for the last 30 years. But because of rising global warming, the oil company’s foundation pillars sunk, leading to the horrible accident. The company is located in permafrost. Given the rate of climate change, it is likely that the power plant will suffer more in the future as the Arctic continues to melt.

The state of emergency for Russia is not just Russia’s concern. An oil spill of this size will, unfortunately, affect us all.

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