Fears Of Chernobyl-Style Cover Up In Arctic Ocean After 21,000-Tonne Oil Spill In Russia

by : Emily Brown on : 24 Jun 2020 11:39
Fears Of Chernobyl-Style Cover Up In Arctic Ocean After 21,000-Tonne Oil SpillEast2West

An ecologist has claimed there may have been a Chernobyl-style cover up following a 21,000-tonne oil spill in the Arctic Circle in an effort to disguise the ‘true scale of the tragedy’. 

The spill occurred last month, when a diesel tank at the Norilsk Nickel powerplant in Russia burst due to thawing permafrost, seen as a consequence of climate change.


The toxic fuel leaked into the Ambarnaya and Daldykan rivers, sparking fears it would spread into the pristine Arctic ocean, so booms were placed in the rivers in an effort to stop the fuel seeping towards Lake Pyasino, which outflows as the Pyasina River into the Kara Sea, part of the Arctic ocean.

You can see how the oil has impacted rivers here:


The owner of Norilsk Nickel, billionaire Vladimir Potanin, apparently convinced Russian president Vladimir Putin that the pollution had been halted, with his company denying pollution reached the lake or Pyasina River.


Putin said:

Truly remarkable work has been done.

I know that the situation has been successfully reversed.

Oil spill turns river redEast2West

However, Potanin’s claims have been directly contradicted by local officials in the Krasnoyarsk region, with ecologist Georgy Kavanosyan warning there are alarming signs of pollution in the Pyasina.


He commented:

There are oil products here. They reached here, and we do not know how far north they reached.

It means that not only the Daldykan (and) Ambarnaya (rivers) and Lake Pyasino are polluted, but Pyasina River, too.

Ecologist Georgy KavanosyanEast2West

The ecologist said this means ‘a large-scale environmental disaster was not avoided’ and that the Kara Sea is under direct threat.


Kavanosyan alleged a cover-up had taken place similar to the one authorities attempted following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

He commented:

Potanin is trying to hide the true scale of the tragedy. The responsible authorities under his control deliberately hush up the fact that the contaminant is moving to the north.

The media is trying to downplay the magnitude of the disaster. I personally had to visit the oil spill and to make some analyses confirming the catastrophic state of Arctic rivers and lakes.

Oil spill leaking down riversEast2West

The ecologist addressed Potanin and said the environmental catastrophe was ‘completely [his] personal responsibility.’
He continued:

If you are a real man, please can you stop this circus. Stop showing the booms to the media.

They have to be urgently taken to the River Pyasina river so that Kara Sea doesn’t get polluted with oil products.

Rivers turn red from oil spillEast2West

In the wake of the incident, Russian authorities launched a criminal probe against environmental inspector Elena Novozhilova, blaming her for failing to inspect the tank that leaked. She allegedly also failed to conduct an unscheduled inspection last year, according to the Investigative Committee.

Novozhilova’s colleagues suggest she is being used as a scapegoat for the major leak.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Now, Russia, Vladimir Putin