WWF Targets Russia’s Richest Man Behind Russia’s Biggest Oil Spill

Billionaire Vladimir Potanin just would like to follow a peaceful lifestyle. But when his business Norilsk Nickel spilled more than 20,000 tons of diesel into the Arctic, Russian environmentalists went ham. Now they are calling him out there. They need him to have the blame for among Russia’s worst ever oil spills.

“We are sure that this particular accident has happened because of bad management of environmental risks and safety. This’s the reason we sent an open letter to Potanin about this,” says Alexey Knizhnikov, the top of WWF Russia’s Industry that is responsible Program in Moscow.

Nornickel’s stocks were in decline since. The company will be the world’s biggest producer of palladium and high grade nickel and a key producer of copper and platinum.

Journalists from the press association Syndicate 100 declared on 3 distinct events, local police attempted to stop journalists on the Novaya Gazeta newspaper that had arrived at Norilsk to report on the ecological catastrophe on May twenty nine.

What happened?

Harm to some diesel fuel storage tank led to a gas leak at Nornickel’s Power and Heat Plant No. three (HPP-3) in the Kayerkan neighborhood of the town of Norilsk, pouring more than 20,000 tons of diesel fuel onto grasslands, into the Ambarnaya River and perhaps a waste currently being held from the river into the Pyasino Lake. The crash was the result of a an unexpected collapse of supports holding up an energy storage container that was accident totally free for over thirty years.

A maximum of more than thirty three kilotons of warm water and gas combination continues to be collected in the region, which includes near Arctic permafrost, with more than 172 kilotons of contaminated dirt removed. Based on the business, some ninety % of gas have been collected and also removed to date.

It’s unclear if any of this would achieve the Arctic Ocean.

“Potanin is attempting to conceal the real dimensions of the tragedy. The dependable authorities under his control deliberately hush up the reality that the contaminant is going to the north,” creates Moscow hydrogeologist Georgy Kavanosyan after going to the spill. “Potanin is attempting to downplay the magnitude of the disaster.”

Today, Potanin is laying low. Absolutely no one out of the business returned a petition to comment on the WWFs push to blame Russia’s richest company male for the accident.

Here is a part of the WWF letter gunning for the billionaire:

“We think in this particular circumstance, the company’s management and also you actually need to take complete responsibility for the Norilsk Nickel environment catastrophe which has transpired and promptly offer a complete selection of emergency steps to eliminate harm preventing circumstances that are related as time goes by at the cost of Norilsk Nickel.

To begin with, we are looking for a maximally open place as well as informing each about the causes & effects of the accident, and also about the actions taken. In the very first days after the crash, we observed an effort to conceal what had happened. WWF-Russia experts, having received info about the weighing machine of the crash from social networks, must intervene and inform the Marine Rescue Service.

Such secrecy, in addition to the provision of information that is wrong is unacceptable.”

WWF, Greenpeace and others stated Nornickel stayed silent for very long about the catastrophe, a disaster they when compared with the Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska in the 1990s.

The crash was made public just 2 several days after the reality, when pictures of the catastrophe had become viral on social media.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of crisis and also purchased a big scale clean up operation.

Greenpeace estimates the ecological harm to Russia’s Arctic marine ecosystem at $1.4 billion. It is going to take almost ten years for biodiversity within the Arctic waters to go back to pre accident levels, Russian environmental officials have stated. The fragile ecosystem is home to numerous species noticed mainly in Russia’s Arctic, leading some alarm ringing environmentalists to contact this “the Arctic’s worst ever environmental disaster.”

Nornickel blamed thawing permafrost with the toilet tank implosion. WWF accuses Nornickel management and Potanin himself of utilizing climate change to stay away from punishment for the company’s ageing infrastructure, as well as hide from prospective gross mismanagement and negligence. Some workers were fired very last month over a standalone issue from the first spill, but associated with its clean-up effort.

Observers point out the aging Soviet era infrastructure was years beyond its safe use. Investigators learned that the collapsed container was created in the 1980s and probably never upgraded. Formally, the flawed tank was decommissioned in 2016 as well as was undergoing a two dolars million refurbishment, though it was continually employed and right here we’re these days.

The Board of Directors has brought up this particular problem of aging gear in days gone by, but there is been absolutely no motion on it, according to a quote within the Financial Times.

“What Norilsk did…is what virtually all Russian companies with old Soviet assets do. They do not wish to purchase modernization,” Evgeny Shwartz, a former head of conservation policy at the WWF who’s an unbiased director at Norilsk today told the Financial Times.

Russian authorities have since launched a criminal probe, with Putin issuing stern words about the company’s management of the catastrophe. But this seems to be the scope of the destruction thus far — leading some to get Potanin has gotten away with a slap on the wrist.

Potanin, fifty nine, is worth around twenty dolars billion and is positioned the 41st richest male in the community. He’s been the main male at Norilsk Nickel for nearly 25 years.

For Russian federation watchers and also investors, Potanin is among the existing Russian oligarchs with closer ties to the household of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and also to Putin.

In the 1990s, he held many top jobs within the Russian authorities. He was one of many individuals behind the so named “loans-for-shares” policy of privatization of state assets post Soviet Union. He applied that policy to get Nornickel for around $170 million, an enterprise he’s swung around and also made into a fifty dolars billion metals giant.

Exterior of the business community, Potanin is a premier sponsor of the “Night Hockey League” founded by Putin. Also, he plays hockey with Putin every so often and is among the country’s most important business executives with Putin’s ears.

This’s not initially Nornickel finds itself in the center of a worldwide environmental scandal.

In 2016, the company’s Nadezhda plant leaked a few lots of metal salts into the Daldykan River near Norilsk turning the waters of its brilliant red.

The pictures went viral on Russia’s social networking and also happened to be gotten by numerous media outlets around the planet. For some days, Nornickel denied some blame, but in the tail end, it mentioned that its place had sent iron slurry overflowing into the waterway.

Based on Nornickel employees, Potanin has not been a current figure at Norilsk for many years. Rather, he manages it from Moscow or even from the residence of his in the French Riviera exactly where he gets to spend a great deal of the time of his.