Russian authorities are investigating a mining company in the Arctic about pumping waste water from one of its processing plants into nearby areas.
Norilsk Nickel said he suspended officials involved in the breach. Now, the pumping has stopped.
It is a new pollution incident involving the company, known as Nornickel.
Emergency workers are struggling to contain a massive diesel spill from a fuel tank owned by the company.
A local ecologist and reporters for the Russian independent daily Novaya Gazeta filmed foamy water being pumped into the Arctic tundra from the Talnakh enrichment plant’s reservoir near Norilsk.
Security guards tried to stop them from filming. The reporters said the wastewater is believed to contain heavy metals – nickel, cobalt and copper – and sulfuric acid, which the company has denied.
In a statement, Nornickel said “those responsible for the plant have been suspended” for “allowing a flagrant breach of operating rules in the plant’s tailings reservoir”.
“Nornickel has started an investigation into what happened, and the company is working with the ministry of natural resources and the ministry of emergencies,” the document said.
The Russian Investigative Committee (SK), which investigates serious crimes, launched its own investigation into the incident.
According to Nornickel, the wastewater does not contain toxic waste from its mining operation. The company says that “purified” water was pumped away from the reservoir to prevent overflowing, although admitting that it was not an acceptable practice.
Novaya Gazeta reports that wastewater has entered the Kharaelakh River, which flows into Lake Pyasino.
The diesel spill in late May involved about 21,000 tonnes, some of which contaminated the lake. Stretches of the Ambarnaya River, which flowed into the lake, turned red with the diesel.
Nornickel has numerous plants in the arctic city of Norilsk, which has long been classified as one of the most polluted places in the world.
Billionaire Vladimir Potanin is the largest shareholder, with a 30.4% stake, while Rusal’s aluminum giant, managed by tycoon Oleg Deripaska, holds 27.8%.