Russia’s Nornickel paid a $ 2 billion fine for the spill in the Arctic last year

Rescuers are working to prevent the oil spill from spreading outside Norilsk in June. (AP photo)

MOSCOW: The giant Russian mining company, Norilsk Nickel, announced today that it paid a fine of nearly $ 2 billion for a massive fuel spill in the Arctic last year.

About 20,000 tons of diesel spilled into lakes and rivers near the northern city of Norilsk in May last year when a fuel tank collapsed at a power plant owned by Norilsk Nickel.

President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency and ordered a mining group, owned by one of the richest men in Russia, to pay for the leak.

Norilsk Nickel, also known as Nornickel, said in a statement today that it paid 146.2 billion rubles (US $ 1.9 billion) for “environmental damage” on the May 29, 2020, leak.

The company said last month it would not appeal a court ruling that would hold it responsible for the accident and order the mining group to pay the fine.

Before the verdict, the group said it would cover the costs of the cleaning but contested the amount of the fine, and assessed the damages to be much lower.

Vladimir Potanin, the company’s major shareholder, recently said Norilsk Nickel had “learned an important lesson” from the disaster.

The company said it has since “completely revised its approach to managing environmental risks,” noting in particular that it wants to gradually replace diesel fuel with cleaner natural gas in its activities.

The diesel leak was one of the worst oil spills in Russia, which is often prone to environmental disasters caused by aging infrastructure and neglect.

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