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Russia's Norilsk Nickel Reports New Fuel Spill In Arctic

A dead fish is seen on the shore of the Ambarnaya River outside Norilsk on June 10.
A dead fish is seen on the shore of the Ambarnaya River outside Norilsk on June 10.

Russian metals giant Norilsk Nickel said around 45 tons of aviation fuel has spilled from its pipeline in the Arctic.

The incident is the latest in a series of environmental disasters to hit around the Far Northern city of Norilsk, which is located above the Arctic Circle.

In May, some 21,000 tons of diesel fuel was spilled from a Norilsk Nickel-operated power plant in Norilsk.

"A pipeline owned by Norilsktransgaz was depressurized while pumping aviation fuel in the area of Tukhard settlement," Norilsk Nickel said in a statement on July 12.

"According to the preliminary data, as a result of the depressurization, which lasted about 15 minutes, there was a spill of up to 44.5 tons of fuel."

Earlier, Norilsk Nickel's subsidiary Norilsktransgaz said the amount of spilled fuel was 20 tons.

Tukhard settlement is situated some 100 kilometers from Norilsk and around 70 kilometers from Norilsk Nickel's Arctic port of Dudinka.

The company said the pipeline has been shut down and measures were being taken to collect the spilled fuel.

Norilsk said it had launched an internal investigation and informed the Emergency Ministry.

Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium, is controlled by Russia's richest man, Vladimir Potanin, whose fortune is estimated by Forbes at $23.5 billion.

On May 29, in what was described as the worst environmental disaster to impact the Arctic, more than 21,000 tons of diesel fuel spilled into the soil, two rivers, and a downstream lake after a storage tank at a Norilsk Nickel-operated thermal power plant near the industrial city of Norilsk collapsed or sank due to what the company said was the thawing permafrost soil.

Two plant managers and two top engineers were arrested on suspicion of violating environmental-protection rules. The mayor of Norilsk and a government inspector were also charged with negligence.

President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency after the incident and Norilsk Nickel promised to pay the costs of the cleanup, estimated at 10 billion rubles ($145 million).

With reporting by Reuters and dpa
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