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Russian Metallurgical Giant Admits Waste 'Violations' At Arctic Plant

Norilsk Nickel is under scrutiny after an earlier fuel spill from one of its power plants.
Norilsk Nickel is under scrutiny after an earlier fuel spill from one of its power plants.

A Russian metallurgical giant has admitted one of its plants pumped wastewater into the fragile Arctic environment and that it has suspended the responsible employees.

Citing a "flagrant violation of operating rules," Norilsk Nickel said on June 28 that the employees were responsible for dumping wastewater from a dangerously full reservoir into the tundra.

The company said employees of the Talnakh enrichment plant near the industrial city of Norilsk had pumped out "purified water" and that there is no threat of waste leakage.

Norilsk Nickel said an internal investigation was under way.

The Investigative Committee said it opened an enquiry after receiving reports of "unauthorized dumping of liquid waste into the tundra" on the site of the facility.

Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified source that around 6,000 cubic meters of liquid used to process minerals at the facility had been dumped.

The incident occurred near the industrial city of Norilsk, one month after a massive fuel leak at a plant in the area owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, the world's leading nickel and palladium producer.

The independent newspaper Novaya gazeta published videos from the scene of the latest incident showing pipes carrying wastewater from the reservoir and dumping liquid into nearby trees.

The journalists claimed the factory removed the pipes when officials arrived on the scene.

They also reported that machinery used to clear the pipes crushed a car carrying the officials to the scene.

No one was injured in the incident, which was also being investigated, according to Interfax.

In May, around 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 power plant collapsed or sank due to thawing permafrost soil.

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 AP and AFP

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