Diesel spilled on May 29 at a Norilsk thermoelectric station in the Arctic Circle continues to move towards the sea, despite attempts by Russian authorities to control the catastrophe.
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"The fuel arrived at Pyasino, a magnificent lake about 70 kilometers in diameter with lots of fish and a good biosphere. But now it is impossible to predict how it will support this load," said Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexandr Uss.
The Ambarnaya River, one of those polluted by the accident, empties into the Pyasino glacial lake, from which the Pyasina River originates, which in turn empties into the Kara Sea.
As a result of the spill, some 21,000 tons of diesel fuel contaminated the surrounding lands and rivers. According to Greenpeace, this accident in the Arctic is comparable to the "Exxon Valdez" tanker spill that occurred three decades ago off the coast of Alaska.
Russia’s Emergencies Deputy Minister Alexandr Chuprian stated that 40 floating barriers have been installed to contain the advance of diesel as much as possible, although he admitted that they will not completely stop the contamination.
"The barriers are physical objects for containment... It is naïve to say that they are absolutely hermetic. Even for a schoolchild, it is clear that there is no effective way to stop the contamination," Chuprian said.
The Krasnoyarsk Region's Environment Vice Minister Yulia Gumeniuk reported that the contamination had advanced beyond floating barriers and also admitted that "they are not an effective means of stopping the contamination."
A week after the accident, investigations by the local Environmental Ministry show that hydrocarbon concentrations exceed 1,100 times the maximum allowable norm in the Bezimianni stream, which is close to the thermoelectric power station.
So far, 673 people and 264 specialized teams, which are dealing with the environmental disaster, have removed 5,200 cubic meters of aqueous diesel suspension and 23,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil for further processing.
Uss denounced that during the first two days the representatives of the Norilsk company deliberately sought to misinform the authorities in order to "hide what happened or the magnitude of what happened."
On June 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his discomfort that the government was not informed in due course of the accident. On May 31, his administration declared a federal state of emergency to ease the consequences of the ecological disaster.