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Floating dams fail to stop fuel spill in Russian Arctic, official says

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Russian officials said Monday they had recorded massive concentrations of pollution in a Siberian river, even after authorities installed barriers to stop a fuel spill that sparked a state of emergency.

[MOSCOW] Russian officials said Monday they had recorded massive concentrations of pollution in a Siberian river, even after authorities installed barriers to stop a fuel spill that sparked a state of emergency.

"Behind the floating dams, we see a large concentration of petroleum products," deputy ecology minister in the Krasnoyarsk region Yulia Gumenyuk said, according to Interfax news agency.

The barriers were either "ineffective" or they had been installed too late, after the pollution had already passed where the temporary dam was installed, she said.

On Friday, Russia's emergency situations ministry had announced that the spread of pollution had been "stopped".

Russia President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency last Wednesday after 21,000 tonnes of diesel spilled from a fuel reservoir that collapsed late May outside Norilsk. The spill polluted huge stretches of river, triggering a major clean-up effort.

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Russian officials have said it was caused by melting permafrost and the prosecutor general has ordered a review of structures built on unstable ground.

Vladimir Potanin, head of metals giant Norilsk Nickel which owns the thermal power plant where the spill originated, told Mr Putin last week his company would pay for clean up efforts.

Ms Gumenyuk said local environmental protection specialists had detected concentrations of fuel products between 80 and 116 times the accepted levels.

She added that high concentrations of pollutants had also been registered in Lake Pyasino, a major body of water and the source of the Pyasina River that is vitally important to the entire Taimyr peninsula.

Sixty-five percent of Russia is covered by permafrost and the environment ministry warned in 2018 that the melt threatened pipes and structures, as well as buried toxic waste, which can seep into waterways.

Four criminal cases have been opened in connection with the incident.

AFP

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