Norilsk is a city over the Arctic Circle. It is closed to most people save visitors (even ordinary Russian citizens at large), and it is a major military-industrial center, especially for mining nickel. It is also one of the most polluted places on Earth due to constant environmental abuse.
following an accident involving a diesel fuel tanker, countless gallons of fuel spilled into the area, which has been compared to a disaster at the scale of the Exxon Valdez accident of 1989.
Russia has managed to contain a massive diesel spill into a river in the Arctic, a spokeswoman for the emergencies ministry told AFP on Friday.
“We have stopped the spread of the petroleum products,” the spokeswoman for the taskforce in charge of the accident clean-up said.
“They are contained in all directions, they are not going anywhere now.”
Environmentalists said the oil spill, which took place last Friday, was the worst such accident ever in the Arctic region.
The accident happened when a diesel reservoir collapsed at a power station outside the northern Siberian city of Norilsk.
It caused 15,000 tonnes of fuel to leak into a river and 6,000 tonnes into the soil, according to Russia’s state environmental watchdog.
The power plant is owned by a subsidiary of Russian metals giant Norilsk Nickel.
President Vladimir Putin has ordered a state of emergency to deal with the disaster and Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev flew in to manage the clean-up operation that currently involves around 100 people.
Zinichev was set to report back to Putin later Friday.
Greenpeace Russia said it was the “first accident of such a scale in the Arctic” and comparable to the Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska in 1989. (source)
Russia right now is aggressively militarizing the Arctic. This is because it is trying most likely to secure easily accessible fuel resources in the event of a war, since in another major conflict with Germany it is almost inevitable that Germany will invade Ukraine and there is a strong chance she may be able to take the Volga Basin. This was the reason, as I have noted, for the horrible Battle of Stalingrad, for the fight at that city was about controlling the oil and spelled the inevitable defeat of Germany following her loss.
However, the question is, will Russia be able to do this and keep Russia together? That is a serious question, for while many problems there are with the US, the fundamentals are significantly in favor of the US. The US and Russia are both changing, but the US is significantly better prepared to handle them than Russia, which could potentially split up into a series of warring nations if she is not careful.
Putin is trying hard to prevent this, but whether or not he will be able to do this and realize his dream of playing a combination Stalin and Ivan the Terrible is questionable. What is a reality is that Russia is significantly weaker now than she was on the eve of World War II and in spite of her constant and well-stated bluffs before the entire world, Russia is very weak and can barely keep her nation together. Since most of her power comes from Siberia, she is trying to keep that together at all costs, but knowing her history and given the amount of self-inflicted wounds, will she be able to stay together, or will she break up into a series of warring states acting as satellites for the Americans, Europeans, and Japanese?
It remains to be seen, but as Russia is working as fast as possible and trying to “keep up” with the rapid changes happening, one can say that it is likely one will see a lot more accidents of such and possibly a worse degree in the future from Russia as she hurries to prepare for a global conflict.