Norilsk Nickel got fined by eco-watchdog for ‘river of blood’ in Arctic

Image of ‘polluted red river’ caused shock but Nornickel stresses it is committed to cleaning up environment, and there will be no repeat. The cause of the temporary phenomenon was said to be ‘iron salts’, a waste product from the plant’s production.

Pictures of the ‘puce-with-pollution’ Daldykan River near Norilsk caused consternation this summer. Locals say it is far from the first time the waters have turned bright red or purple in the north of Krasnoyarsk region.

The river was said to be polluted by a discharge from Nadezhdinsky factory, also known as Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, which processes nickel concentrate. It is part of the Nornickel empire, better known as Norilsk Nickel.

The Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) told activists from the All-Russian People’s Front – created by President Vladimir Putin – that an administrative fine had been imposed for violating pollution laws.

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Pictures of the ‘puce-with-pollution’ Daldykan River near Norilsk caused consternation this summer. Pictures: Social media

The amount of the fine was not disclosed but the maximum is 40,000 roubles – around $635 – for a parent company Nornickel that had a consolidated revenue of $8.5 billion in 2015.

A slurry pipeline was blamed.

Co-chairman of the front’s regional branch, Anatoly Samkov, said: ‘Such violations are one of the facts of environmental mismanagement.

‘The administrative sanctions imposed on the company cannot serve as a serious preventive measure and we will demand the tightening of existing legislation for such cases. We will keep the situation under control.’

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The river was said to be polluted by a discharge from Nadezhdinsky factory, also known as Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, which processes nickel concentrate. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Norilsk Nickel

Nornickel did not immediately comment on the fine. The cause of the temporary phenomenon was said to be ‘iron salts’, a waste product from the plant’s production.

‘There is no danger for fish and people,’ said Sergey Dyachenko, Chief Operating Officer of Nornickel in an earlier comment. ‘We hope that it will not happen in future,’ he said.

Alexei Kiselyov, of Greenpeace Russia, said iron salts are a mildly toxic reagent,  and it was impossible to say if there was damage to local fauna without investigating the site. ‘Results of the tests are needed,’ he said.

The company has said it is taking massive steps to clean-up historic pollution dating back to Soviet times.

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