A Russian storage tank holding thousands of tons of diesel oil collapsed due to the melting of the permafrost on which it stood.
The oil, which spilled into the Ambarnaya River and the surrounding area was from a thermal power plant that is a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, the largest producer of nickel and palladium in the world.
The oil made its way to Lake Pyasino and could possibly pollute the Pyasina river and eventually flow into the Arctic Ocean
Vasily Ryabinin, an employee of Rosprirodnadzor, the state environmental agency, heard of the oil spill and rushed to the river to take pictures. He and his employer attempted to get into the plant but were denied entry by the local police.
When he watched the local news, he learned that the company had put out a statement that the spill was quickly contained which he knew was not true.
He complained to his employer, but the agency had decided to go along with the lie and told him to stop investigating. Having had enough of the hypocrisy, he took it upon himself to speak to the public about what he saw.
When news agency CNN heard of the situation, they attempted to contact Rosprirodnadzor with no response. According to an article published on their website, CNN then contacted Nornickel who stated that the oil cleanup was being “guided by the official data of Rosprirodnadzor and the Ministry of Emergency Situations.”
Extent of the spill as seen by Sentinel-2 satellite
Moscow environmentalist Georgy Kavanosyan had seen the videos and agreed with Ryabinin. Using math and weight formulas to support his theories, he claimed the amount of oil that was lost could not possibly have been contained so quickly. According to Kavanosyan, “They only caught the very tail of this spill
News reports claimed that the spill is surface only and isn’t affecting the lake and marine life while Kavanosyan believes that the water and mud are being damaged not to mention the effects on marine life.
He decided to go to the lake and see for himself. As he entered the town with a cameraman, he pretended to be visiting friends but would sneak out after dark to go to the lake. A sample taken from the water found levels of contamination 2.5 times higher than is legally allowable
Other journalists who weren’t so sneaky were pressured by the Nornickel guards watching the area but were able to find an illegal pump sending wastewater right into the ground. Nornickel claims the oil spill was caused by melting permafrost. They did admit to the illegal dumping and removed the local staff