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Russian President Declares State Of Emergency After Massive Oil Leak In Arctic Circle

oilleak june04 lt

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency following massive diesel oil leak into a river in the Russian Arctic region.

The spillage of 21,000 tonnes of diesel oil into a river near the Siberian city of Norilsk is feared to cause environmental damage for years to come.

This spill, considered the largest one in the Russian Arctic Circle, has contaminated an area of 350 square kilometres, Russian state media report.

Head of Russia's environmental watchdog, the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, Svetlana Radionova, has estimated the damage "at possibly hundreds of billions rubles," the TASS news agency reports.

A fuel tank at a power plant of Russian mining company Nornickel collapsed last Friday, resulting in the spill.

It took two days for company officials to identify the incident, over which President Putin reportedly expressed anger at the company's top executive Sergei Lipin in a televised video conference.

Nornickel is the world's leading nickel and palladium mining and smelting company. Its largest operations are located in the Norilsk-Talnakh area near the Yenisei River, in northern Russia.

Nornickel will be slapped with heavy fine, according to the Kommersant business daily. It also reports that companies in the Arctic could face tougher regulations in the wake of this incident.

The company that was earlier known as Norilsk Nickel is one of Russia's most polluting firms.

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