A Russian company spilled 20,000 tonnes of oil in the Arctic Circle, turning a river red

Business Insider US
The oil spilled from the plant and into a river near the city of Norilsk.

  • More than 20,000 tonnes of oil were spilled into a river in the Arctic Circle by a Russian mining company on Friday.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency and expressed anger that officials only learned about the spill two days after it happened.
  • "Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?" he asked. "Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?"
  • Russia has launched a criminal probe. The company said a huge cleanup was underway.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Russian mining company spilled more than 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil into a river in the Arctic Circle, sparking the anger of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The BBC reported that a fuel tank at a power plant owned a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel leaked on Friday. The company is the world's top nickel and palladium producer.

The spill, in the city of Norilsk in Siberia, turned the river red.

Putin has declared a state of emergency over the incident, which allows extra resources to be deployed for the cleanup.

Putin spoke on Russian TV on Wednesday, where he said that officials had only learned about the incident two days after it happened.

He criticized Sergei Lipin, the company's head: "Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?"

"Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?," he asked, per the BBC.

Putin has ordered an investigation and detained a manager at the plant.

The Investigative Committee, Russia's top law enforcement body, also announced a criminal probe on Tuesday, CNN reported.

According to the BBC, Siberia governor Alexander Uss told Putin before his address that he was made aware of the spill on Sunday when "alarming information appeared in social media".

Russian state media outlet TASS reported that experts believe the spill could harm the region's environment for years.

Norilsk Nickel said in a statement on its website that "the diesel fuel storage tank was damaged, resulting in a fuel leak."

It said that around 250 people were involved in the cleanup efforts.

It said that as of Wednesday, around 262 tonnes of oil had been pumped back out of the environment - still only a tiny proportion of the spill.

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