Nornickel, the Russian mining major, has disputed a Rb147.78 billion (€1.84 billion) charge from Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources Management (Rosprirodnadzor) over a diesel spill from a failed tank in Norilsk, Russia.

On 29 May, 2020 a diesel tank storing 21,163 tonnes of diesel collapsed. It was the back-up fuel for a combined heat and power plant, known as HPP-3, at a site owned by Nornickel subsidiary Norilsk-Taymyr Energy Company (NTEC). 

Nornickel said melting permafrost in the ground surrounding the tank caused the supports to sink suddenly and the tank to rupture. Around 16,000 tonnes of diesel is thought to have entered the rivers, and Nornickel has previously estimated the clean-up cost at Rb10 billion.

Rosprirodnadzor said that it calculated the damage from the spill to come to its figure for voluntary compensation, requesting Rb147 billion for damage to waterbodies and Rb739 million for damage to soil.

But Nornickel said those calculations were based on “flawed assumptions”, distorting the estimates. It said Rosprirodnadzor used the maximum multiple that can be applied to calculate the cost, which is based on the duration pollutants have been in an environment and assumes no measures have been taken to clean up the pollution. Nornickel argued that legally this cannot be applied, as it responded immediately to the spill. It added that this maximum multiple also only applied to soluble pollutants which cannot be collected, unlike diesel, which is not soluble.

Nornickel said: “In the company’s opinion, the volume of oil products which has been spilled to the water bodies has been also determined incorrectly, since their content in the water-fuel mixture, contaminated soil and sorbent collected in the HPP-3 area was estimated before the collection of oil products in this area was completed.”

Clean-up efforts for the spill are ongoing.

Nornickel added: “The company reiterates its commitment to fully cover the cost of remediation of the environmental impact of the fuel spill accident in line with the applicable legislation. Furthermore, Nornickel is ready not only to remediate the environmental impact, but also to completely restore the ecosystem of the impacted area in close cooperation with Rosprirodnadzor and other government agencies and organisations.”

For more information visit

13th July 2020