A Russian mining firm has paid a record cost of $2bn (£1.4bn) over an oil spill, thought to be one of the worst environmental disasters in Russia’s history
The company responsible for the oil spill, Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s leading producer of nickel and palladium, has said that it had paid the record-breaking fine on Wednesday.
The fuel spill that happened last May saw 21,000 tonnes of diesel pour into rivers and lakes in Russia’s Arctic north from one of the company’s storage tanks .
It prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare a state of environmental emergency.
“I ask you to ensure that this [money] is used primarily to improve the environmental situation in [the city of] Norilsk itself and the surrounding region,” President Putin said during a government meeting.
This comes after China and Russia have announced their intentions to build a new lunar research station on the moon together, launching a new era of collaboration between the two countries, set in space.
The penalty is the biggest fine ever issued for an environmentally damaging reason in Russia, officials have said.
Norilsk Nickel, which is also known as Nornickel, was told that they are required to pay the fine back in February by a Russian court, where they chose not to appeal the decision.
Its net profits for the year 2020 fell by 39% as a result of this fine, the Reuters news agency has reported.
The diesel oil began leaking back on the 29th of May last year. The leak is thought to have originated from a rusty storage tank located at Norilsk Nickel’s power plant within Siberia.
Investigators believe that the tank near Norilsk sank as a result of melting permafrost that has weakened the tanker’s supports. The Arctic climate had seen weeks of unusually warm weather at the time, which was widely believed to have been a symptom of climate change, prior to the environmental disaster.
This comes after humans have so far degraded or destroyed roughly two-thirds of the world’s cover of original tropical rainforest, new data has revealed. The loss of this rainforest cover is also a major contributor of emissions that contribute to climate-change, with the dense tropical forest vegetation of the Earth representing the largest living reservoir of carbon on the planet.
The oil leak had contaminated the Ambarnaya river, as well as the surrounding subsoil before it then drifted about 20km (12 miles) north of the Norilsk power plant.
The leak then entered Lake Pyasino, which flows into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean. In total, the oil contaminated an area of 350 sq km (135 sq mile).
The environmental damage from the spill could last for decades, Russia’s Greenpeace climate project manager Vasily Yablokov had said at the time.