INTERNATIONAL

Russian firm to be probed over Arctic ‘dumping’

Liquid spill-out:Water gushing out from a pipe belonging to mining giant Norilsk Nickel near Norilsk on Sunday.APElena Kostyuchenko

Liquid spill-out:Water gushing out from a pipe belonging to mining giant Norilsk Nickel near Norilsk on Sunday.APElena Kostyuchenko  

Reports say that discharge of waste water could pose threat to a nearby river

Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel said on Sunday that it had stopped the discharge of waste water from one of its Arctic facilities, one month after an unprecedented fuel leak nearby sparked a state of emergency.

The incident occurred at the Talnakh enrichment plant near the Arctic city of Norilsk, the company said, when liquids used to process minerals were “discharged from a reservoir”. “Measures were taken to stop” the removal of the liquid into nearby territory, the company said, adding that there was no threat of waste leaking.

Dumping of waste

A source in the Emergency Situations Ministry however told the RIA Novosti news agency that the discharge of toxic substances could pose a threat to the nearby Kharayelakh river. The Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes, said it had received reports of “unauthorised dumping of liquid waste into the tundra” on the site of the facility and had opened an enquiry.

Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published videos of the scene in a report claiming the factory had deliberately discharged the waste water into nearby wildlife areas.

Novaya Gazeta journalists said Norilsk Nickel employees had hastily removed pipes when investigators and emergency services arrived on the scene. Norilsk Nickel spokeswoman Tatiana Egorova confirmed to AFP that the employees of the factory had pumped “purified water from the reservoir” and that an internal investigation was under way.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s natural resources agency said the decision to remove water from the reservoir was taken to avoid an emergency, after heavy rains and tests had caused water levels to increase dramatically. “To prevent possible emergencies due to increasing water levels in the basin, the operating personnel decided promptly to lower the water level,” Svetlana Radionova said.

Norilsk Nickel was at the centre of another incident last month when more than 21,000 tonnes of diesel leaked into soil and rivers after a fuel reservoir collapsed at a power plant also near Norilsk. President Vladimir Putin declared an emergency situation after the accident and the head of Norilsk Nickel, oligarch Vladimir Potanin, promised to pay the costs of the clean-up.

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