Russian mining giant admits waste ‘violations’ at Arctic plant

MOSCOW: A Russian mining giant behind an enormous Arctic fuel spill last month said on Sunday (Jun 28) it had suspended workers at a metals plant who were responsible for pumping wastewater into nearby tundra.

Norilsk Nickel cited a "flagrant violation of operating rules" in a statement announcing it had suspended employees responsible for dumping wastewater from a dangerously full reservoir into wildlife.

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The incident occurred at the Talnakh enrichment plant near the Arctic city of Norilsk, the company said, one month after the unprecedented fuel leak sparked a state of emergency declared by President Vladimir Putin.

Map locating Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel's Talnakh enrichment plant near the Arctic city of Norilsk. (AFP)

More than 21,000 tonnes of diesel leaked from a fuel storage tank at one of the company's subsidiary plants near Norilsk. The fuel seeped into the soil and dyed nearby waterways bright red.

A source told Interfax news agency on Sunday that in the most recent case, around 6,000 cubic meters of liquid used to process minerals at the facility had been dumped and that the discharge had lasted "several hours".

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It was impossible to determine how far the wastewater had dispersed, the source said.

Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published videos from the scene showing large metal pipes carrying wastewater from the reservoir and dumping foaming liquid into nearby trees.

The journalists claimed the factory deliberately funnelled the wastewater into wildlife areas and hastily removed their pipes when investigators and emergency services arrived on the scene.

UNAUTHORISED DUMPING

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.

Heavy machinery used to clear the pipes crushed a car delivering officials to the scene, Novaya Gazeta reported.

Interfax said no one was injured in the incident which was also being probed.

Norilsk Nickel spokeswoman Tatiana Egorova earlier Sunday told AFP that employees of the factory had pumped out "purified water" and that an internal investigation was under way.

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