Fuel spill clean-up

NornickelPublic Joint Stock Company "Mining and Metallurgical Company "Norilsk Nickel” and its subsidiariesGo to the glossary has implemented a far-reaching programme to collect the fuel residue along riverbanks and decontaminate the soil following the spill. We take full responsibility for the consequences of the incident and are doing everything we can to rectify the situation.

On May 29, 2020 the fuel storage facility at Heat and Power plant No 3 (HPP-3) in the Kayerkan Neighbourhood of Norilsk failed due to sudden sinking of its support posts, resulting in the fuel leakage. According to preliminary investigations 21.2kt of diesel fuel leaked beyond the bunding perimeter into a designated pit, into nearby soil and into the Bezymianny Stream, and the Daldykan and Ambarnaya Rivers. Special containment bons were installed and effectively prevented the contamination of the Pyasino Lake. No one was hurt and the city of Norilsk was not harmed in any way.

Nornickel’s response

Nornickel informed local authorities and government agencies and started the response operation immediately on May 29th, 2020. On June 19th, the CompanyPublic Joint Stock Company "Mining and Metallurgical Company "Norilsk Nickel"Go to the glossary completed the main phase of the clean-up. Nornickel promptly completed three main stages of the clean-up programme, with the spill fully localized and the majority of the fuel and water mixture collected. The mixture from the Ambarnaya and Daldykan rivers was pumped and separated, the separated fuel was transported from the temporary storage facility back to a HPP fuel tank. Oil-contaminated soil has been removed from the power plant’s territory and is being treated using the microbiological remediation method. Sampling of surface water and bottom sediments is carried out at 10 points on the Daldykan, Ambarnaya and Pyasina rivers. The effectiveness of the implemented measures is confirmed by the monitoring and sampling results, which indicate clear signs of an active environmental remediation process.

Recycling of contaminated soil

The soil contaminated with oil products has been removed from the territory adjacent to the HPP-3 and taken to a specially designated engineering site. A biopreparation shop was set up, fermenters of different volumes were installed. The soil is undergoing bioremediation, this method is based on biological decomposition of contaminants by microorganisms destructing hydrocarbons.

All work on the isolation of effective oil destructor strains is carried out in a certified laboratory (Institute of Ecology and Genetics of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences), specialising in oil-oxidising microorganisms. As a result of the treatment organic compounds will gradually disappear and mineral compounds will form to be later incorporated into the biological cycle. The shop will produce technical soil which can be then used for:

  • technical reclamation of disturbed natural and industrial objects; liquidation of the consequences of subsoil use, backfilling of mine workings;
  • construction of access roads, construction and repair of roads in the field, embankments and filling of slopes;
  • embankment of road beds outside residential areas;
  • filling of the isolation layer at industrial waste landfills.

Key Figures

> 90% of leaked fuel was collected and contaminated soil was removed in a short period of time
> 35 km3 of water-fuel mixture collected
> 800 thousand square meters the total area in the land reclamation project, including biological treatment to restore the flora of the disturbed and contaminated land
10 locations surface water and sediment sampling is undertaken at 10 locations: Bezymyanny Stream (2 locations), Daldykan River (2 locations), Ambarnaya River (4 locations) and Pyasina River (2 locations)
Almost 3,000 m3 the amount of peat that will be applied as part of the restoration of natural environment components to create a fertile layer
261 people involved in contaminated land remediation activities during the 2021 field season
500 equipment items were involved in the clean-up
130 thousand tonnes of contaminated soil has been moved to the recycling shop from the temporary waste storage sites

Please find more details regarding the clean-up campaign

More details

What’s next?

Key actions

Company action following the accident: stepping up industrial safety

  • In June 2020 Nornickel commenced a comprehensive reassessment of risks associated with the Company’s hazardous operations
  • Engaged Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a specialist environmental consulting firm, to independently investigate the causes of the fuel spill. The ERM report was published at the end of November 2020. Based on it, Nornickel implements a set of additional measures aimed at preventing similar situations in the future
  • A detailed action plan to improve industrial safety at the Company’s facilities has been developed and submitted to the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor)
  • An additional RUB 100 billion is spent on repairs and upgrades of power infrastructure in a bid to enhance industrial safety

Enhancing monitoring of the foundations to identify and reduce risks

  • Satellite monitoring of permafrost-based industrial structures — real-time control of supporting posts deformation and soil temperature
  • Design and roll-out of real time foundations monitoring system (in progress, by the-end of 2023)

Environmental research and rehabilitation programmes

  • Reproduction of aquatic bio-resources, including the release of juvenile fish into water bodies to preserve rare fish species; a project to build three fish breeding plants is under consideration
  • Biodiversity conservation — a programme to preserve local rare species and their habitat
  • Under the Cooperation Agreement between the Government of the Krasnoyarsk Region and OJSC NTEC, a Nornickel subsidiary, the Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Siberian Federal University has developed and carrying out a project for remediation of damage to wildlife and other environmental components that was caused by the accidental fuel spill
  • The Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences is carrying out the activities of the Big Norilsk Expedition 2 with Nornickel’s support
  • The Expedition activities include: assessment of risks of a repeated emergency associated with snowmelt and spring flood of 2021, research of fish, biodiversity and the state of permafrost