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Russia declares state of emergency in Siberia after 18,000 tonnes of diesel fuel spilled

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency in a region of Siberia after an estimated 18,000 tonnes of diesel fuel spilled from a power plant storage facility and fouled waterways.

Fuel spilled from power plant storage facility has fouled water in river leading to Arctic Ocean

Tonnes of fuel products from Norilsk Nickel leaked into the Ambarnaya River after pillars supporting a fuel tank are believed to have sunk in permafrost. 2:19

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency in a region of Siberia after an estimated 18,000 tonnes of diesel fuel spilled from a power plant storage facility and fouled waterways.

The spill took place last Friday at a power plant in an outlying section of the city of Norilsk, 2,900 kilometres northeast of Moscow. Booms were laid in the Ambarnaya River to block the fuel. The river feeds a lake from which springs another river that leads to the environmentally delicate Arctic Ocean.

Putin on Wednesday ordered officials to minimize the consequences of the spill. But Alexei Knizhnikov of the World Wildlife Fund's Russia operation said the damage to fish and other resources could exceed one billion rubles ($13 million US).

The power plant is operated by a division of Norilsk Nickel, whose factories in the area have made Norilsk one of the most heavily polluted places on Earth.

No cause for the accident has been determined, but a company statement said it was concerned about facilities constructed on sinking soil above permafrost.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency in a region of Siberia after an estimated 18,000 tonnes of diesel fuel spilled from a power plant storage facility. (RU-RTR Russian Television via The Associated Press)

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