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calendar   Wednesday - June 10, 2020

The Current Global Disaster That Didn’t Make The News At All

MAJOR PETROLEUM SPILL OF NEARLY 3/4 MILLION GALLONS

The Taymyr Penninsula is in northern central Russia along the Arctic Ocean. It is between 1200 and 1700 miles east of Finland and about 1600 miles west of Alaska. This is one of the more remote and inhospitable places on the planet.

Norilsk is a mining and industrial city in the southwest end of the peninsula. What isn’t mines is boggy swamp, when it isn’t frozen solid by the 8 months long brutal winter.

At the Norilsk-Taymyr Energy Company there, a massive spill of diesel fuel from their giant storage tanks has released more than 21,000 tons of diesel fuel into the local waterways and across the tundra. That’s at least 600,000 gallons.

And there’s no way to clean it up right now. They can try and contain it, but actual removal won’t happen for months until things freeze up again.

Perhaps the leaking tanks are right here: 69.329191, 88.251773 (decimal map ref).

There is not a lot of precise information available, but it doesn’t look like the diesel could get into the Artic Ocean from there. No, it will just destroy several of the few bog lakes on the whole peninsula.

Large territories of rivers, streams and tundra lands are covered by more than 20 thousands tons of diesel oil from a reservoir owned by company Nornickel. The catastrophe was reported to the authorities only two days after the spill and nobody really knows how to clean up.

A thick layer of diesel oil now covers more than 20 km of rivers around the installations of the Norilsk-Taymyr Energy Company. Practically all rivers and affluent creeks are filled up by oil products, leader of Russia’s Federal Environmental Control Service (Rosprirodnadzor) says after a visit on site.

Water samples show several tens of thousands times higher concentrations of oil products than the maximum allowed level, Svetlana Radionova told President Vladimir Putin in an online video meeting on Wednesday.

According to Radionova, about 6,000 tons of diesel oil has spilled into the tundra and another about 15,000 tons have ended up in the local waterways.

A layer of diesel oil as thick as 20 cm is found by the oil booms put out on the local river about 20 km away from the site of the accident, the leader of Rosprirodnadzor says. [ 6” thick 14 miles away ]

“We are now identifying damage and potential consequences for the waters, as well as the soil,” she explained to the President.
Reported after 2 days

The accident took place in the morning of the 29th of May, but was reported to the authorities only on the 31st of May. Neither the Norilsk-Taymyr Energy Company, nor its mother company Nornickel had published any official information about the spill until 3rd June, and the regional authorities in the Krasnoyarsk Kray put out a small notice only on that same day, at the same time as regional Governor Aleksandr Uss was ordered to report to the President.


Big clean-up after the catastrophe, but spilled oil will be removed from Taymyr tundra only next winter

Thousands of tons of spilled diesel oil are being pumped into special containers placed along affected rivers and creeks. The substances will be removed from the desolate area only after the tundra freezes next winter.
...
Nornickel must cover the full cost for restoring nature in the area, Putin underlined to Nornickel CEO and majority owner Potanin.

“The owners are obliged to fully liquidate the pollution of soil and waters, ” Putin underlined and added that a comprehensive compensation scheme for restoration of bio diversity and nature in the area will have to come in place.

He also made clear that the Russian General Prosector and the Investigative Committee will study the case carefully to find reasons and assess damage.

“We will pay whatever it costs,” Potanin responded. He added that he believes the price for the clean-up will amount to “ten billion rubles, and more.”

Nornickel fully owns the Norilsk-Taymyr Energy Company, and manages the huge industrial facilities of city Norilsk and the surrounding Taymyr tundra. Nornickel from before has a dubious environmental reputation. Air pollution around the company’s industrial plants in Norilsk and in the Kola Peninsula is among the worst in Russia.

The good news? Russia has decided that they aren’t going to set it on fire to clean it up. Gee, genius in action, what what?

Russian authorities were long at odds over how to clean up the vast volumes of harmful substances from the remote and vulnerable Arctic nature.

Burning was first considered to be the best alternative way to get rid of the oil products. But that alternative has now been abandoned.

Instead, a big number of special containers are being flown into the area and placed along the worst affected rivers and streams. Spilled oil is now pumped into the reservoir tanks.




Russian Inspectors: Drain the other tanks before we have another accident!!

According to Rosprirodnadzor, the environmental catastrophe happened after the concrete foundation on which the reservoir rests began to sink. Following the sinking, the bottom of the reservoir detached from its walls whereupon the diesel oil spilled into the surroundings.

On site are another four similar reservoirs, three of which are in operation. They are now a major subject of concern for the environmental inspectors in the area.

In a letter addressed to the Norilsk Taymyr Energy Company, the environmental watchdog now warns that the remaining reservoirs could ultimately get the same fate as the first collapsed tank.

The reservoirs might together hold more than 60,000 tons of fuel oil.

The control authority proposes that the company pumps all the diesel fuel out of the reservoirs and that it carefully studies the technical condition of the facilities.

The work must be completed by 9th August this year, the letter explains.
Hard clean-up

The major spill happened on the 29th May, but is believed to have been reported to the authorities only on the 31st May. Clean-up operations are now in full swing with more 650 people and 250 equipment items involved, Nornickel informs.

And of course all this happened because of ... wait for it ... Global Warming. Things got warmer, the permafrost softened up, foundations built on them sunk, oil tanks on those foundations split open. Climate change is real there, and across much of northern Russia. It’s why they’re opening all those LNG facilities in the west, and why so many freeze dried mammoths are being found in the east.

The reservoir facilities in Norilsk hold only a tiny fraction of the volumes of oil and oil products stored across the Russian Arctic. A lion’s share of Russia’s oil production is made in the country’s north and storage facilities, pipelines and terminals are stretched across the vast region.

Potentially, similar spills like the one in Norilsk could soon happen in numerous places across the region, including in nearby oil-rich Khanti-Mansiisk area, Yamal-Nenets Autonmous Okrug, Komi Republic and Nenets AO.

Looks like it’s time for Russia to clean up it’s act. Literally.

And this massive spill isn’t even a blip on the news radar here or in Europe. Because protests. And COVID. And politics.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/10/2020 at 08:20 PM   
Filed Under: • DisastersEnvironmentOil, Alternative Energy, and Gas Prices •  
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