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Oil spill just outside Ukhta: What is known about the accident by now

The experts found the welling out place at Malyi Voyvozh creek

How did oil get into the river Ukhta?

It came from the unused wells drilled in 1930-50-s. The leak place was discovered on April 15th. This was said by Pavel Bogachik, the head of Ukhta Civil Defense Emergency Preparedness Agency, in an interview with "7x7". The official said that the wells were close to a creek Malyi Voyvozh. From there, the oil flowed into the river Yarega, and then into the river Ukhta.

"The welling out place is found, there are two wells there. The inspection is going on, since there can be more such places”, Bogachik reported.

According to Ukhta City Hall employee, the contingency wells do not belong to anyone. At the same time, some staff wearing the clothes with LUKOIL Komi logos of is working on the spot of the Yarega river incident liquidation, where oily liquid is being collected. Getting a comment from the company has not succeeded yet. Journalists of “7x7" also could not to talk with Pechora environmental interdistrict prosecutor, his office phone today was not available.

 

What's happening on the spot of oil collection?

 

The oil from Yarega river is being collected round-the-clock, almost without breaks. A gasoline generator and floodlights was brought there for that. The afternoon of April 15, the team of about 20 people was working at the river. Earlier it was reported that 100 people in total had worked on containing the accident.

Two containment booms and a hydraulic lock has been installed on the river. Next to them a creek is organized, where the clumps of oil fall. It is collected in barrels with shovels and then loaded into dump trucks. However, the small pieces are floating by booms.

 

 

 
 
 

 

As noted by the member of Save Pechora Committee Valery Torlopov, who was at the scene of the accident on April 11, visually the amount of oil in the river has decreased for four days.

The accident respondents told the "7x7” correspondent that the record of the collected oil is not being kept. According to them, they immediately realized that this oil had come from the mine because "it was easy to distinguish".

 

Is tap water in Ukhta drinkable?

Yes, it is safe, despite the fact that first oil floating in Ukhta river was discovered by fishermen on April 10, just five kilometers upstream from the municipal water intake. As Ukhtavodokanal [Ukhta municipal enterprise of water supply and waste water treatment] chief engineer Tatyana Filippova said, the analysis withdrawn on April 12 has showed the excess of maximum permissible parameters of samples taken, so the water intake from the river was stopped. For drinking water supply, they started to use the second, an underground source.

 

According to Filippova, on April 12, the maximum permissible concentration of oil in the samples was about 1 milligram per liter. On April 13, this indicator fell to 0.7 ml/dm3, and on the evening of April 14, it fell to 0.6 ml/dm3.

According to the Great Encyclopedia of oil and gas, Yaregskaya oil belongs to a sour class. Therefore, according to state standards, the size of its maximum allowable concentration in the waterbodies of drinking and household purposes is not more than 0.3 milligrams per liter.

The municipality water canal takes the samples from Ukhta river four times a day. Once the maximum allowable performance of oil in the samples fall below 0.3, water intake resumption from there will be considered.

 

What else is known about the oil spill?

In the waters of Ukhta river, due to the discovery of oil and oil products in the river Yarega floating from 8 p.m. on April 13, 2016, the emergency mode has been established. The information on this was published on April 14 on Ukhta City Hall website. Activists and environmentalists argue that the emergency mode should have been established a few days before.

The first who reported on the oil floating in Ukhta river were the locals of Shudayag village, when they were fishing there on April 10. They drilled holes in the ice, and dark sticky liquid appeared on the surface, which resembled oil by its consistency. The photo evidence was published by the moderators of a VKontakte group Ukhta Against "Radioactive New Buildings".

 

 
 
 
Фото из группы "Ухта против радиоактивного новостроя"

Source: VKontakte group Ukhta Against "Radioactive New Buildings"

According to the head of Greenpeace Russia energy program Vladimir Chuprov, taking into account information about the number of already collected oily liquid, the size of the oil spill under the ice and the amount of equipment involved in the accident response, the question could be about 100 tons of oil got into the river.

"7x7" has reported on oil spills in Komi Republic many times. However, earlier the accidents in Usinsk and Izhemsk areas were in the spotlight. In August 2014, Greenpeace Russia organized a two-week camp in Komi Republic to draw attention to the problems of petroleum production. The members of Save Pechora Committee, the largest environmental organizations of the region, helped them with preparations. In 2015, a new organization Zelenaya Respublika [Green Republic] emerged with the support of Komi Republic government, which members have been arrested due to Gaizer Scandal. The new organization was supposed to win over the agenda formation related to the oil spills issue and smooth embarrasing situations. However, after the arrest of the former republican head Gaizer and his colleagues, Zelenaya Respublika stopped participating in social activities.

Maxim Polyakov, “7x7”

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