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Along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, oysters live in coastal estuaries where saltwater and freshwater meet and mix. Flickr / CC by 2.0

Along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, oysters live in coastal estuaries where saltwater and freshwater meet and mix.

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The Kobuk River in Alaska on Aug. 30, 2011. 16Terezka / CC BY-SA 3.0

Around 15,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled in a Native Alaskan village Saturday, threatening a nearby river and the local drinking water supply.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view shows Lake Mead in Nevada on January 2, 2020. Daniel SLIM / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Walton

Use of Colorado River water in the three states of the river's lower basin fell to a 33-year low in 2019, amid growing awareness of the precarity of the region's water supply in a drying and warming climate.

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Amazon river dolphins are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Sylvain CORDIER / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

By Peter Yeung

A pair of pink Amazon river dolphins emerges for just a moment, arcing above the chocolate brown waters inside the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, a research facility at the tropical heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Powerful jets of water spray out of their blowholes as these freshwater mammals take in air before submerging.

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A recently published study found that Cuban rivers are cleaner than the Mississippi because of organic farming and conservation agriculture. Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Paul Bierman and Amanda H. Schmidt

For most of the past 60 years, the United States and Cuba have had very limited diplomatic ties. President Barack Obama started the process of normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, but the Trump administration reversed this policy, sharply reducing interactions between the two countries.

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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.

Harmful algal blooms, seen here at Ferril Lake in Denver, Colorado on June 30, 2016, are increasing in lakes and rivers across the U.S. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images

During summer in central New York, residents often enjoy a refreshing dip in the region's peaceful lakes.

But sometimes swimming is off-limits because of algae blooms that can make people sick.

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A mallard duck among plastic in polluted water in Cardiff Bay on Sept. 22, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Matthew Horwood / Getty Images

The gruesome images of whales and deer dying after mistaking plastic for food has helped put into perspective just how severe the plastic waste crisis is. Now, a new study finds that it is not just land and sea animals eating our plastic trash. It turns out that birds are eating hundreds of bits of plastic every day through the food they eat.

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With the water level of the Missouri River at an all-time low and falling on June 30, 2002, a bait and dock manager at Standing Rock Indian Reservation near Mobridge, South Dakota points out the dry, cracked mud where boat launching river water used to stand. MARLIN LEVISON / Star Tribune via Getty Images

For the first decade of the 2000s, the Missouri River, the nation's longest river, was drier than it's been in more than 1,200 years. The culprit is the climate crisis, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS.

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The Athos I tanker was carrying crude oil from Venezuela when a collision caused oil to begin gushing into the Delaware River. U.S. Department of the Interior

A case that has bounced around the lower courts for 13 years was finally settled yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision, finding oil giant Citgo liable for a clean up of a 2004 oil spill in the Delaware River, according to Reuters.

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Aerial view of Parque da Cachoeira, which suffered the January 2019 dam collapse, in Brumadinho, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil — one of the country's worst industrial accidents that left 270 people dead. Millions of tons of toxic mining waste engulfed houses, farms and waterways, devastating the mineral-rich region. DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP / Getty Images

By Christopher Sergeant, Julian D. Olden

Scars from large mining operations are permanently etched across the landscapes of the world. The environmental damage and human health hazards that these activities create may be both severe and irreversible.

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