[UPSC Prelims Focus] Ambarnaya River Oil spill in Russia


  • Russia has declared a state of emergency after a power plant fuel leak in its Arctic region caused 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil to escape into a local river, turning its surface crimson red.

About the spillage:

  • What is it?
    • The Ambarnaya River, into which the oil has been discharged, is part of a network that flows into the environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean.
    • Emergency measures were announced within Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Region, located in the vast and sparsely populated Siberian peninsula.
  • How did the leak happen?
    • The thermoelectric power plant at Norilsk is built on permafrost, which has weakened over the years owing to climate change. The power plant is located near the Region’s Norilsk city, around 3000 km northeast of Moscow.
  • What has Russia done so far?
    • Boom obstacles were placed in the river, but they were unable to contain the oil because of shallow waters. The state of emergency declared would bring in extra forces and federal resources for the clean-up efforts.
  • What is the extent of the damage?
    • Environmentalists have said the river would be difficult to clean, given its shallow waters and remote location, as well as the magnitude of the spill.
    • The clean-up effort could take between 5-10 years.

Do You Know?

  • Permafrost
    • The ground that remains frozen for two or more consecutive years is considered permafrost.
    • Permafrost is composed of rock, soil, sediments and varying amounts of ice that bind elements together.
    • Some permafrost is frozen for tens, hundreds or even thousands of years.