Amid a massive fuel spill in a river within the Arctic Circle, Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency.
The spill happened when a fuel tank at a power plant near the Siberian city of Norilsk lost pressure last Friday, May 29. It leaked 20,000 tonnes of fuel and lubricants, a huge part of which flowed into the Ambarnaya river.
At a televised government meeting to discuss the spill, President Putin expressed anger after coming to know that local authorities had only learned of the incident from social media two days after it happened. He also scolded the region's governor Alexander Uss on air.
"What - are we to learn about emergencies from social networks? Are you alright healthwise over there?" Putin was quoted as saying by Reuters.
According to the state environment watchdog, while 15,000 tonnes of oil products had seeped into the river system, another 6,000 had seeped into the subsoil. In aerial footage published by the RIA news agency, an expanse of crimson water could be seen stretching from shore to shore down a river. The river will need decades to recover, the state fisheries agency said.
The plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel - the world's leading nickel and palladium producer. The company said that it is doing all it can to clear the spill. The company has also brought in specialists from Moscow, who have sectioned off the affected part of the river to prevent the oil from spreading further.
According to BBC, the Russian Investigative Committee (SK) has launched a criminal case over the pollution and alleged negligence.