Photo: novaya_gazeta/Twitter

Russian Mining Company Pumps Wastewater Into Arctic Tundra

by Tim Wenger Jun 29, 2020

The Arctic tundra of northern Russia has had a rough go as of late. Less than a month after a massive oil spill outside the town of Norilsk, the same Russian mining company has suspended workers at a metal plant who were caught dumping wastewater into the nearby Arctic tundra. While no injuries have been reported, the incident could prove devastating to the natural habitat surrounding the Siberian town of Norilsk, about 1,788 miles northeast of Moscow.

According to a report in The Guardian, about 212,000 cubic feet of wastewater from a reservoir was dumped into surrounding trees, with the full reach of the dump and the extent of the damage not yet known. Emergency services did say, however, that the wastewater was unlikely to reach the nearby Kharayelakh River.

The company, Norilsk Nickel, called the incident a “flagrant violation of operating rules.” Russia’s natural resources agency noted that recent heavy rains and tests had caused water levels at the reservoir to rise dramatically and that the decision was made to pump some of the liquid out of the reservoir to avoid overflowing.

After local police began receiving reports of unauthorized dumping, an inquiry was opened. Novaya Gazeta reported that large metal pipes pumping liquid from the nearly-overflowing reservoir dumped the wastewater into the tundra, and then removed the pipes when investigators arrived to analyze the incident.

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