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Russian Oil Spill to Affect Sea Life in Arctic

Garsha Sai Nitesh
Garsha Sai Nitesh

Russia declared a state of emergency following a fuel leak from a power plant in its arctic region. The leak caused 20,00 tones of diesel oil to escape into a river near Norilsk and turned its surface crimson red. 

The Ambaryana river into which the oil escaped is a part of the network which follows into the environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean. The Russian Investigative Committee (SK) launched a criminal case following the event happened, officials in Moscow came to know about the oil spill two days after the event happened. 

As the incident happened when the world was celebrating World Environmental Day it attracted huge criticism from all around the world. The Arctic Ocean area is very important for the earth but climate change is affecting it badly. Melting sea ice is increasing sea levels which is threatening major cities and small island countries. 

As the ice melting at a higher rate than ever ocean aquatic life cycle is hampered. Many important ocean species are on the verge of extinction and some are extinct. 

The leak happened from a  thermoelectric power plant at Norilsk which stands on permafrost which has weakened as it is getting older. This led to the pillar supporting the plant’s fuel tank to sink. According to the official reports, 20,000 tones of diesel oil were released into the river which has drifted 12 km on its surface. 

The heavier oils covering the surface of the water affects the respiration ability of marine life. The light oils blend with water and get absorbed into the marine life organs. The oil contaminants food of the marine animals which when consumed leads to death. 

Environmentalists around the world have said cleaning the river would be hard. Ambaryana river has remote locations and shallow waters which is a challenge to conduct clearing operations under the level of the oil spill. Some experts said the clearing up can take 5- 10 years in total. Speaking to AFP news agency the World Wildlife Fund described this event as the second-largest known oil leak in modern Russia’s history in terms of the volume 

The Russian chapter of Greenpeace said the damages caused to the Artic waterways could be at least $76 million. In a statement released, the NGO said, “The installed buoys will only help collect a small part of the pollution, leading us to say that nearly all the diesel fuel will remain in the environment”. However, this estimate doesn’t describe the loss caused by the atmosphere and soil pollution. 

The Russian minister of natural resources opposed the idea to set fires on the vast spread oil and recommended dilution of the layer with reagents.  

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