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Arctic Oil Spill in Norilsk, Russia

Because of bad maintence and permafrost melting 20,000 tonnes of oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle from an electric plant supplying the largest Russian mining company. Rivers may take a decade to clean.


On May 29, 2020 a fuel tank collapsed near city of Norilsk in Arctic Russia, liking 20,000 toons of diesel in the nearby waters. The leaked oil drifted 12km  from the accident site, turning the Ambarnaya river crimson red. Environmentalist and scientists advert that the spill could soon reach Arctic Ocean [3].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Arctic Oil Spill in Norilsk, Russia
Country:Russian Federation
State or province:Krasnoyarsk Krai
Location of conflict:Norilsk
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Specific commodities:Rare metals
Nickel and palladium
Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

That company is called Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Co., a subsidiary of Nornicel. The company is co-owned by Russia’s richest billionaire. In 2020, his wealth surpassed $20 billion. It is currently at $25.5 billion. The oil spill cleanup costs are likely to continue to mount, because it will take at least a decade to properly clean up the mega spill [6].

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Project area:2,000 (20 km (so far))
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:177,506
Start of the conflict:29/05/2020
Company names or state enterprises:Norilsk Nickel from Russian Federation
Relevant government actors:The Russian Investigative Committee (SK)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Greenpeace
- World Wild Life Fund
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Media based activism/alternative media
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Global warming, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Enormous environmental damage of the Arctic rivers both locally and globally due to old infrastructure and electricity demand for one of the biggest mining company in Russia--- the Norilsk Nickel company.
Sources & Materials

[1] The Guardian 2020: State of emergency: 20,000 tonnes of diesel spill into Arctic river – video
[click to view]

[2] BBC News: Arctic Circle oil spill prompts Putin to declare state of emergency
[click to view]

[3] The Globe and Mail 2020: Fears grow that huge Russian oil spill could reach Arctic Ocean
[click to view]

[4] SciTechDaily 2020: State of Emergency Declared After Massive Diesel Oil Leak Within the Arctic Circle
[click to view]

[5] Clean technica 2020: Melting Permafrost Claims Its First Major Victim, Russia’s Oil & Gas Network
[click to view]

[6] Bloomberg 2020: Huge Spill Stains Arctic and Climate Change Could Be the Cause
[click to view]

[7] Greenpeace Russia 2020: The river runs red – catastrophic oil accident in the Russian Arctic
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:KH and JMA ENVJUST Project (ICTA-UAB)
Last update14/06/2020
Conflict ID:5093
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