Russian metal giant Nornickel has confirmed that it has paid a RUB 146.2 billion (€1.67 billion) fine in full, for the diesel tank collapse in Norilsk, Russia, in May 2020, which spilt more than 20,000 of fuel into the surrounding land and waterways.
The company was ordered to pay the fine in a judgement by the arbitration court in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, on 12 February 2021, and ultimately decided not to appeal the ruling. Russian officials told news outlets that it is the largest fine ever imposed for environmental damage in Russia.
In a government meeting, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that with the payment of the fine, Nornickel is ‘fulfilling its obligations’, and added: ‘As agreed, I would like to ask you to spend this sum total on improving the mid-term and long-term environmental situation in Norilsk and the adjacent region.’
The cause of the tank’s collapse is disputed. Nornickel subsidiary Norilsk-Taymyr Energy Company (NTEC), which owned the tank, originally blamed melting permafrost, but later admitted that poor construction had been a factor in the collapse, exacerbated by melting permafrost. Russian environmental supervisory body Rostechnadzor, however, found no evidence of melting permafrost at the site, and blamed technical and operational failures. Clean-up costs for the pollution have been estimated at more than €1 billion.