Environmental activists are worried about how it would impact the region for decades.
Human activities have contributed to environmental hazards that have impacted the planet forever. A recent incident is an example of such human carelessness. According to IFL Science, rivers within the Arctic Circle has turned blood red after an industrial accident.
It is reported that about over 20,000 tons of diesel spilled into the river due to an accident that occurred in a plant owned by the world's biggest nickel producer company, Norilsk Nikel, near the Siberian city of Norilsk. Following the spill, the fuel quickly contaminated nearby rivers and a reservoir in the Taimyrskii Dolgano-Nenetskii district, according to ABC News. The oil spill is believed to have started on 29 May 2020.
Speaking of the huge fuel tank rupture, the company's first vice president, Sergey Dyachenko stated, "What we can suggest is that as a result of the abnormally mild temperatures, a melting of the permafrost could have happened that led to the partial subsiding of the support on which the tank sits." Melting of the permafrost has become a major problem in the region due to warm temperatures caused due to climate change.
Photographs and videos circulating the internet showed that the rivers, Ambarnaya and Daldykan have turned bright red. Satellite images on Russia's equivalent of Google Maps, Yandex Maps also captured the magnitude of the pollution caused by the spill. Environmental activists have already raised their concerns regarding the issue.
Probably doesn't even surprise given how 2020 has been so far. 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil spill in the artic circle. Brilliant. Why not eh? pic.twitter.com/ffNkATq9sJ— Momus Najmi (@MomusNajmi) June 4, 2020
"It has been found that the maximum permissible levels [of contaminant] have exceeded in water areas by tens of thousands times," Svetlana Radionova, Head of the environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, according to IFL Science.
They believe that it can have long-lasting impacts on local wildlife. Conservationists fear that the spill would affect the health of fish, birds, and wild mammals in the region. "The consequences of such accidents, especially in the north, reverberate for a long time. It means the death of fish, the contamination of birds' feathers, and the poisoning of animals," Sergey Verkhovets, WWF Russia's coordinator for arctic projects, according to ABC News.
Russia struggles to clean up Artic oil spill... https://t.co/Bt9AoCoDqx— Martin McAuley (@Citizen98Martin) June 4, 2020
A video circulated by the local media that showed a man lighting a scoop of polluted water on fire also depicted the gravity of the situation.
“Diesel fuel is more toxic than the oil, and at the moment the circumstances appear to be as massive,” Alexey Knizhnikov, Head of the Program for the Business Environmental Responsibility at WWF-Russia, according to IFL Science.
According to ABC News, the leak is one of the most serious recent environmental hazards in the region.
Meanwhile, clean up operations have already started. Though the authorities insisted that the spill did not reach the Kara Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia, the surrounding soil and water of Norilsk will remain contaminated for decades. However, it cannot be confirmed without proper lab testing.
According to ABC News, The World Wildlife Fund stated that the workers had managed to prevent the spill to the nearby regions by using floating barriers. But, the experts stated that these barriers would not be able to stop further contamination as most of these toxins are easily dissolvable in water. But "the successful localization of the slick does not mean that polluting substances haven't got into the lake," said Aleksey Knizhnikov, WWF Russia's director for environmentally responsible business, according to ABC News.
Since the initiation of the cleaning process, over 800 cubic meters of contaminated soil has been removed from the area by 3 June, 2020. They also managed to remove 262 tons of diesel from the water.
🇷🇺 Russia declares state of emergency after massive OIL SPILL in the ARTIC Circle~https://t.co/I3314RFZy9— 𝘾𝙖𝙥𝙩 𝙍𝙖𝙗𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙎𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙝 77K (@captsingh) June 5, 2020
The environmental hazard has forced the Russian government to declare a federal emergency. The government also criticized local leaders for delaying their response to the crisis. The Krasnoyarsk region, which includes Norilsk, issued a state of emergency only two days after the leak happened.
On the other hand, this is not the first leak to pollute the rivers near Norilsk Nikel's facilities. In 2016, the company had confirmed its involvement in polluting the river that happened due to flooding at one of its metal plants after initially denying it.