A Catastrophic Oil Spill in Russia Has Turned a River Red

Photo: Marine Rescue Service press service/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

As we’ve noted before, it’s looking more and more like the end times. Now, in addition to clouds of locusts and strange weather events, there was a massive oil spill in northern Russia over the weekend, causing a 7.5-mile stretch of water to turn dark red.

The spill resulted in 20,000 tons of diesel oil leaking into a river in the Arctic Circle. The company responsible, Norilsk Nickel, is suggesting the spill may have been caused by thawing permafrost that damaged an oil storage tank.  Russian president Vladimir Putin apparently only found out about it after people started posting photos of the red river on social media, two days after the spill began.

Putin has now declared a state of emergency in the nearby city of Norilsk to free up more resources for cleanup, which may cost $1.5 billion and could take between five and ten years to complete. Greenpeace has compared the spill to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, and a criminal probe has been launched into the energy company responsible.

The factories in the area have made Norilsk one of the most polluted places on earth. Alexei Knizhnikov, of the World Wildlife Fund, said the spill is believed to be the second largest in modern Russian history. He added diesel fuel is lighter than oil, so it is likely to evaporate rather than sink, but is also “more toxic to clean up”.

“The incident led to catastrophic consequences and we will be seeing the repercussions for years to come,” Sergey Verkhovets, coordinator of Arctic projects for WWF Russia, said in a statement. “We are talking about dead fish, polluted plumage of birds, and poisoned animals.”

A Catastrophic Oil Spill in Russia Has Turned a River Red