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An aerial view shows the pollution in a river outside Norilsk, Russia following an oil spill, on June 6, 2020. IRINA YARINSKAYA / AFP via Getty Images

Russia's Norilsk Nickel ran into trouble earlier this month when one of its subsidiaries accidentally spilled 21,000 tons of diesel that ended up polluting a pristine Arctic lake. Now the company admits that it has been dumping wastewater into the Arctic tundra, as Agence-France Press, (AFP) reported.

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A forest fire in central Yakutia (Sakha Republic) on June 2. Yevgeny Sofroneyev / TASS / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

The number of fires in the vast north Asian region of Siberia increased fivefold this week, according to the Russian forest fire aerial protection service, as temperatures in the Arctic continued higher than normal in the latest sign of the ongoing climate crisis.

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The town of Verkhoyasnk in Siberia has just recorded a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Amos Chapple / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images Plus

A town in Siberia recorded a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius, or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit Saturday.

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The new model predicts the growth of small ponds on arctic ice sheets. Scientific Visualization Studio / NASA

By Anurag Papolu

To better predict climate change, scientists need accurate models which predict the behavior of many natural processes. One of these is the melting of Arctic sea ice, which requires expensive and difficult data collection in the Arctic.

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Greta Thunberg in a video conversation with Swedish professor and joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Johan Rockstrom, broadcasted live to a global audience from Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden on April 22, 2020. JESSICA GOW / TT News Agency / AFP via Getty Images

When you want a seat on the UN Security Council, the last thing you need is a teenage activist, practiced at the art of shaming government officials, working against you. However, that's just what Norway and Canada have.

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A 21,000 tonne (approximately 23,000 U.S. ton) oil spill that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare an emergency last week has now reached a pristine Arctic lake, and there are concerns it could contaminate the Arctic Ocean.

Environmentalists and local officials have raised alarms about the disaster, which they say is the worst of its kind in the Russian Arctic, according to BBC News. So far, the oil has spread 12 miles from the initial spill site, a fuel tank that collapsed May 29.

"The fuel has got into Pyasino as well. This is a beautiful lake about 70 kilometres (45 miles) long. Naturally, it has both fish and a good biosphere," Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss told Interfax news agency Tuesday, as AFP reported.

Lake Pyasino flows into the Pyasina river, which in turn flows into the Arctic Ocean's Kara Sea, BBC News explained.

Greenpeace Russia director Vladimir Chuprov told AFP it would be a "disaster" if 10,000 tonnes (approximately 11,000 U.S. tons) of fuel or more had reached the lake. He said he feared it would reach the Kara Sea as well, which would have "harmful consequences."

Uss, however, was committed to preventing that from happening.

"Now it's important to prevent it from getting into the Pyasina river, which flows north. That should be possible," he said, as BBC News reported.

The news that the spill had reached the lake came a week after a spokeswoman for the team in charge of cleanup efforts told AFP the spill had been contained.

But regional officials told a different story.

"We can see a large concentration of diluted oil products beyond the booms," Krasnoyarsk region deputy environment minister Yulia Gumenyuk said, according to BBC News.

Norilsk Nickel, the company that ultimately owns the power plant where the tank collapsed, denied that any oil had reached the lake.

"Our samples at the Pyasino Lake show 0.0 percent contamination results," Sergei Dyachenko, the company's first vice-president and chief operating officer, said in a Tuesday video conference reported by AFP.

He also said it was unlikely the fuel would reach the ocean.

"The distance from Pyasino Lake to the Kara Sea is more than 5,000 kilometres (approximately 3,107 miles)," he said.

The spill has also contaminated rivers and soil. So far, cleanup efforts have removed 812,000 cubic feet of contaminated dirt, according to BBC News.

"[The spill] will have a negative effect on the water resources, on the animals that drink that water, on the plants growing on the banks," Vasily Yablokov of Greenpeace Russia said, according to BBC News.

The polluted Ambarnaya and Daldykan rivers may take ten years to clean, The Guardian reported.

Norilsk Nickel has said the collapse that caused the spill was probably due to melting permafrost, but environmental groups have accused the company of using the climate crisis to downplay its own culpability.

"It's an attempt to write off Nornickel's failure in risk management and ecological safety on the fashionable topic of climate change," Alexey Knizhnikov of the World Wildlife Fund told The Guardian. "The main factor is mismanagement."

Greenpeace said it had reported on the threat posed by thawing permafrost to oil and gas infrastructure in the fast-warning Russian Arctic as far back as 2009. But Dyachenko said in a conference call Tuesday that the company had not been monitoring the permafrost before the accident.

"It's not possible that the company did not know about [thawing permafrost], but it is possible that the company used a dangerous facility irresponsibly," Greenpeace Russia's Yablokov told The Guardian.

A helicopter view of a diesel fuel spill in Siberia on June 2, 2020. Andrei Marmyshev\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared an emergency after 20,000 tons of diesel fuel spilled into a river in the Arctic Circle.

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A fire in Greenland on July 10. Zombie fires smolder underground for months, notably in dense peatlands, and then flare-up when it grows warmer and drier. NASA

By Mark Kaufman

Some fires won't die.

They survive underground during the winter and then reemerge the following spring, as documented in places like Alaska. They're called "overwintering," "holdover," or "zombie" fires, and they may have now awoken in the Arctic Circle — a fast-warming region that experienced unprecedented fires in 2019. The European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service is now watching these fires, via satellite.

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The Earth's atmosphere. NASA

By Jeremy Deaton

You may have heard about the hole in the ozone layer, which hovers over Antarctica. It has shrunk over time thanks to policies that curbed the use of ozone-depleting chemicals. In the nearly 40 years that NASA has kept track, it has never been smaller. That's the good news.

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Below-average temperatures are expected in the Midwest and East this weekend. NOAA / National Weather Service

It will be warmer in Fairbanks, Alaska, than it will be in New York City, Philadelphia, Cleveland and even Atlanta this weekend, AccuWeather predicted Wednesday.

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Ozone forecast charts produced daily by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service show predictions for total vertical ozone column values for the Antarctic region up to five days ahead. European Commission Atmosphere Monitoring Service

An unusual phenomenon happened in March and April when an enormous hole in the ozone layer formed over the Arctic. Last week, though, scientists tracking the hole noticed that it has closed, as CNN reported.

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