Putin declares Arctic fuel spill state of emergency

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a state of emergency in the Arctic city of Norilsk on Wednesday (June 3) after a huge leak of fuel into a river.

He then went on television to admonish a senior official for what he call a bungled state response.

Officials found a fuel tank at a power station owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel company lost pressure in the remote, industrial region last Friday (May 29) and released 20,000 tons of fuel and lubricants -- much of which flowed into the river Ambarnaya.

In the TV address, Putin expressed his shock at finding out that local authorities had only learned of the incident from social media two days after it happened.

The state environment watchdog said the river and the surrounding subsoil had been severely affected. The state fisheries agency says the river will need decades to recover.

Putin said he supported a proposal to declare a national state of emergency in the area as it would help the clean-up.

Norilsk Nickel is the world's leading nickel and palladium producer, and said it’s doing all it can to clear up the spill and has brought in specialists from Moscow to assist them.