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  2. "A local environmental disaster." Environmentalists assess the consequences of a fire at a waste landfill in Komi

"A local environmental disaster." Environmentalists assess the consequences of a fire at a waste landfill in Komi

Ivan Zhuravkov
Fire at the sludge collector in the village of Verkhnekolvinsk
Photo from the Save Pechora Committee’s Telegram channel

In the Komi Republic, in the night of October 18–19, there was a fire at an oil product waste landfill (sludge collector). A firefighter died when suppressing the fire. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the fire damaged oil product waste on an area of 2.5 thousand m2. The activists of the Save Pechora Committee Movement were the first to report the accident. They assumed that the sludge collector belonged to LUKOIL-Komi. The company stated that the work on the site had been carried out by its contractors. Activist Nina Ananina called the fire at the sludge collector a "local environmental disaster."

The fire occurred at the sludge collector in the village of Verkhnekolvinsk in the night of October 19. The MST Company used this territory for industrial waste disposal. Employees of the private fire department and contractual units of the fire service arrived there to suppress the fire. In total, 19 people and 5 cars were involved in the accident elimination. The fire was suppressed by 3 a. m. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Komi Republic, the fire damaged oil product waste on an area of 2.5 thousand m2. An employee of the private fire department died when suppressing the fire.

After the firefighter’s death, the Department of the Investigating Committee for Komi organized a procedural check. During it, investigators plan to find out the causes and circumstances of the incident and assess compliance with requirements for ensuring the safety of hazardous production facilities.

LUKOIL-Komi's press relations service informed 7x7 that the work on the sludge collector had been carried out by the company's contractor, the MST Firm.

"They carried out industrial waste disposal using certified technology that excludes open combustion and emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere. The circumstances of the incident are being clarified," LUKOIL-Komi added.

The Save Pechora Committee (SPC) was one of the first to report the fire at the sludge collector at the Vozeysky Oil Field near Usinsk on vk.com. Activists said that they did not know what exactly had caused the accident. However, they added that oil sludge burning in furnaces could lead to a fire.

"The main danger from this fire is air pollution. This is a large sludge collector. Petroleum products from Kolva [meaning the oil that got into the Kolva River in May 2021] were brought there as well. That is, there is a lot of oil in the sludge collector," SPC's Chairman Ivan Ivanov explained to 7x7.

The Ecologists of Komi Organization's Chairman Nina Ananina said that when petroleum products are burned, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide with soot are released into the air, as well as other dangerous components, such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides, hydrogen sulfide, which can cause acid rain when mixed with atmospheric water.

"Another combustion product, including of petroleum products, which is usually not revealed, is hydrocyanic acid. This extremely toxic compound, when exposed to human or animals’ bodies, causes a violation of aerobic respiration and leads to paralysis of nerve centers. That is, the fire at the sludge collector is not a harmless bonfire in the tundra, but a local environmental disaster," Ananina said.


One of the notable recent accidents at the LUKOIL-Komi Enterprise was a fire at the Yareganeft Oil Mine in November 2020. The fire occurred during drilling operations, carried out by the Neftegazmash LLC Contracting Organization's employees. 80 people were evacuated to the surface from the mine, the fate of two remained unknown for several days, but later the court pronounced them dead. Investigators opened a criminal case under the article on failure to satisfy the requirements for ensuring the safety of hazardous production facilities (217 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

Earlier, in January 2020, there was an explosion at the Ukhta Oil Refinery (owned by LUKOIL-Komi). After the explosion, there was a fire, the area of which was up to 1 thousand m2. Rescuers assigned an increased level of complexity to the fire. The accident occurred due to the depressurization of one of the tanks with petroleum products. Local residents complained that windows in their apartments were shaking because of the explosion.

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