Nornickel: Russia probes new pollution at Arctic mining firm

Russia – Russian officials are investigating a mining company in the Arctic over the pumping of waste water from one of its processing plants into nearby countryside.

Norilsk Nickel said it has suspended staff involved in the violation and the pumping has been stopped.

Emergency workers have been struggling to contain a huge diesel spill from a fuel depot owned by the company. A local ecologist and reporters from Russia’s independent daily Novaya Gazeta filmed foamy water being pumped into Arctic tundra from the reservoir at the Talnakh enrichment plant near Norisk.

Security guards tried to stop them from filming. According to the reporters, the waste water was believed to have contained heavy metals – nickel, combat and copper – and sulphuric acid, which the company has denied.

In a statement, Nornickel said “those responsible at the plant have been suspended” for “allowing a flagrant violation of the operational rules at the plant’s tailings reservoir”.

“Nornickel has launched an investigation into what happened, and the firm is working with the ministry of natural resources and the emergencies ministry,” it said.

Russia’s Investigative Committee (SK), which probes serious crimes, has launched its own investigation into the incident.

Nornickel has said that the waste water does not contain toxic tailings from its mining operations and that “purified” water had been pumped away from the reservoir to prevent overspill while accepting that it was not acceptable practice.

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