Bloomberg (USA): the wrath of Putin because of a fuel spill could lead to “green” reforms in Russia

Error in the fight against the largest oil spill in the Arctic caused outrage at Russian President Vladimir Putin, and it might give impetus to changes in environmental regulation.

The biggest Russian mining and metallurgical company “Norilsk Nickel” has made an official statement on this subject only two days after the accident on may 29. The result of this accident, more than 20,000 tons of diesel fuel were in vulnerable river system of the Arctic.

By the time footage and photos from the accident widely dispersed social networks, and shortly thereafter, the Governor presented an official report significantly razdrajennouu Putin. The President publicly chastised the main shareholder of Norilsk Nickel and the richest man in Russia, Vladimir Potanin because he didn’t replace taking on water tank.

When the scale of the oil spill became clear, the investigators spoke on Wednesday stating that they had detained several employees responsible for the tank. Norilsk Nickel called the measure unnecessary. The company said that a container of fuel were destroyed due to melting of permafrost and ground subsidence. If so, then the entire infrastructure in the vast Russian North may be at risk as the thawing of the soil.

The company “Norilsk Nickel” has long been criticised for insufficient attention to environmental issues. A little money on the repair capacity could have prevented the leak, but now the situation is that under the threat of extinction was a unique species of fish, birds and mammals living in the Siberian Taimyr Peninsula. According to one source, who asked not to be named, Putin was very angry because of the oil spill.

In the black list

This accident could push the President to the adoption of environmental laws and norms, which have long been stalled. As the source said, these laws will directly touch the crumbling energy infrastructure of the country.

Kremlin press Secretary Dmitry Peskov did not respond to a request for comment.

Issues of Norilsk Nickel pollution of the environment is not the first time deal a blow to Russia’s reputation in the field of ecology. The main enterprises of the company located in Norilsk, and is one of the most polluted cities in the country. The national welfare Fund of Norway, which is the largest in the world in 2009 made “Norilsk Nickel” to your black list because of the damage he caused to the Taimyr Peninsula.

There are two versions of causes of accident. “Nornikel” and the Russian Prosecutor General’s office say that the capacity has been damaged due to the melting of permafrost. The investigative Committee said the reservoir, which is 35 years old, was put into operation after repair (“Norilsk Nickel” said that the repair was in 2018) without necessary permissions.

There is disagreement in the assessment of the damage from the fuel spill. Diesel fuel from the wreck found in lake Pyasino, which is connected with the Kara sea, and it were in danger of local wildlife, what on Tuesday, reported Interfax, citing regional Governor Alexander USS. On the same day, the investor Norilsk Nickel gave a presentation, which stated that the leak managed to be stopped before the fuel got into the lake, and there is no danger for the Kara sea.

10 000 spills

One thing is clear. The extent of the oil spill is unprecedented. Greenpeace compares it with the accident of the tanker “Exxon Valdez” in Alaska in 1989. According to “Norilsk Nickel” to clean the territory will need $ 150 million.

In Russia, which ranks first in the world in the export of energy resources, each year there are at least 10 000 oil spills, said the head of the energy program of the Russian Department of Greenpeace, Vladimir Chuprov. Most often accidents happen in the huge pipeline system of Russia, 50% of which have exhausted their service life, said Chuprov.

The situation becomes even more critical, as climate change melts the permafrost. And since the permafrost zone is more than half of the Russian territory, a great danger as the melting of the soil located there is threatened by the infrastructure.

Stalled bills

However, more stringent rules and regulations aimed at preventing oil spills and spill response, stuck in the Parliament in 2018, when the bill passed its first reading there. This law requires companies with fuel storage and pipelines, developed detailed plans to curb the leaks and created financial reserves for the liquidation of damages.

After the accident, Putin ordered to check similar containers across Russia and demanded as quickly as possible to develop new law to meet modern realities. This week Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin spoke again about the proposed 2018 legislation.

The draft law is too vague, and large effect will not have, says Director of consulting in the sphere of state regulation of the fuel and energy complex of the company VYGON Consulting Darya Kozlova. But there is a better approach, which provides insurance and online monitoring, she added.

“The main problem is that Russian companies are not motivated to change the situation and investing in the prevention of accidents,” — said Chuprov from Greenpeace, which insists that the life of pipelines and infrastructure in the Arctic should be restricted to 20 years.