2021 sustainability report

HPP-3 incident
clean-up

On 29 May 2020, an incident occurred at NTEC’s HPP-3 with 21.2 kt of diesel fuel flowing out on the adjacent area and into the Bezymyanny Stream.

The failed tank No. 5 was commissioned in 1985.

Independent investigation by ERM consulting company revealed that the incident was caused by a combination of factors that led to sinking of several piles in the base of fuel storage tank No. 5:

  • violations during construction (completed in 1985): several piles were found to be shorter than the design length and were not installed into the bedrock under the fuel storage tank in violation of the design;
  • permafrost thawing as a result of climate change.

During the clean-up, the Company published unbiased updates on the spill and all clean-up activities on its website in real time. World-class experts were invited to Norilsk to assess the causes and contributing factors of the diesel fuel spill and provide recommendations on prevention of such incidents in future. For more details on HPP-3 incident, please see the White Paper, a special report prepared by the Company in 2021.

Clean-up efforts and their results

2020

  • Soil at the industrial site adjacent to HPP-3 was excavated to the permafrost level and a waterproof layer was arranged. The contaminated soil was taken to dedicated sites and replaced with rock backfill. Special artificial watercourses were created to intercept residual petroleum products using sorbents.
  • Measures were taken to contain the spill within the Ambarnaya River delta and prevent it from spreading to Lake Pyasino.
  • 25,586 m3 of petroleum products were collected from the surface of the water bodies. The collected water and fuel mixture was transported to a temporary storage facility and separated into water and diesel fuel. The treated water was reused in the facility’s water recycling system.
  • The soil was flushed to a depth of 60 cm to clean the contaminated bank lines, and the flushed petroleum products were collected using various sorbents. In total, a bank area of 32,539 m2 was cleaned up.
  • Oil product waste collected during the clean-up is treated using the best available technologies to treat and dispose of oil-containing waste by a biological method.

2021

  • A special site to dispose of the oilcontaminated soil was set up and approved by Rospotrebnadzor.
  • The oil-contaminated soil was transported from the temporary storage and distributed for further recycling. In total, 127.5 kt of soil was transported.
  • With the onset of 2021 spring floods, the Ambarnaya River saw containment booms installed to prevent any residual petroleum products from potentially getting into the river. Maintenance of the containment booms during the entire field stage of works in 2021 did not reveal any sign of their contamination with petroleum products.
  • An inspection was carried out to review and amend the land rehabilitation programme. The area of contaminated land to be rehabilitated totalled 239,600 m2, and the area of disturbed land — 510,000 m2.
  • In accordance with the rehabilitation programme, the surface soil was treated and a fertile layer was created by introducing peat and sowing permanent grasses in a contaminated area of 174,300 m2 and disturbed land of 300,900 m2. Rehabilitation efforts will continue in 2022.
  • Measures were taken to restore aquatic biological resources, including release of fry into water bodies to maintain the population of rare fish species. Construction of three fish breeding facilities is being explored. The project for remediation of damage to wildlife and other environmental components that was caused by the accidental fuel spill is also being carried out.
  • As part of the programme for monitoring natural environment as well as to inspect pollutant behaviour, Nornickel collected samples from surface water bodies, bottom sediments, and soil for further laboratory testing. The Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of the Krasnoyarsk Territory also carried out laboratory tests which revealed that the presence of petroleum products is within the standard limits for content of residual petroleum products in soils.
  • Rosprirodnadzor’s claim regarding damage to soil and water, as well as requirements of the Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of the Krasnoyarsk Territory in connection with damage to wildlife were settled. The Company and the Rosrybolovstvo are also negotiating compensation in kind for the damage to water bodies.
  • To prevent such incidents in future, a new system was implemented to monitor foundations built on permafrost soils. The real time foundation monitoring system is being designed and rolled out, and a comprehensive, long-term effort in monitoring assets to assess the impact of permafrost thawing in the Norilsk Region is being taken.

2022 (plan)

  • Disposal of oil-contaminated soil.
  • Agrotechnical operations and vegetative amelioration to improve soil agrophysical, agrochemical, and biochemical properties after spring floods according to the rehabilitation programme.
  • Inspection of the area to assess efficiency of the rehabilitation operations and dynamics of contaminated and disturbed land restoration (in spring and autumn).
  • Control over remediation works under the rehabilitation programme.
  • Sampling of surface water bodies, bottom sediments, and soil under the programme for monitoring natural environment within the area polluted as a result of the diesel fuel spill.

Contaminated land, sq m

Contaminated land

Following the fuel spill clean-up, the Company conducted a large-scale ethnological expedition to support the indigenous peoples of Taimyr, engaging world-class experts and scientists. The accumulated data helped assess the ethnic and social, as well as economic status of the indigenous peoples of Taimyr and identify their development potential. Based on the results of the ethnological assessment, in 2020, the Company launched a fiveyear Programme to promote the social and economic development of Taimyr until 2024, with funding totalling around RUB 2 bn. It stimulates the economic activity of indigenous minorities and facilitates the recovery of renewables being the resource base underlying their traditional lifestyle and trades. For more details, please see the Interaction with Indigenous Northern Minorities section.

Great Norilsk Expedition

To work out effective and sustainable ways of addressing environmental challenges and restoring the areas affected by the fuel spill and prepare recommendations on how to minimise the environmental impact of operations in the Arctic, Nornickel and the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences completed the first stage of the Great Norilsk Expedition in 2020 (for more details, please see the White Paper).

In 2021, the Great Norilsk Expedition carried out fieldwork in June–October and desktop studies in November, and summed up the preliminary results in December.

In the course of four months, the researchers used water samples to examine the evolution of hydrocarbon makeup and track changes in its gross share. The detailed study covered all of the affected area’s water bodies, including the Bezymyanny (Nadezhdinsky) Stream, Norilskaya, Daldykan and Ambarnaya rivers, Lake Pyasino and Pyasina River, as well as surrounding areas (Melkoye and Lama lakes, Boganida River and the adjacent plateau). In addition, the scientists studied the composition of soils on all floodplain territories and analysed their biodiversity.

Fish population assessment became one of the key focus areas of the Great Norilsk Expedition in 2021. The indigenous minorities of the North made a valuable contribution to the research by assisting scientists from the Siberian Branch of the RAS in collecting samples from the northern districts.

Key conclusions of the Great Norilsk Expedition in 2021:

  • Booms are efficient, and they are recommended for further use during spring floods;
  • Rehabilitation measures are efficient;
  • The general environmental impact of the diesel fuel spill abated;
  • Considerable self-regeneration capacity of ecosystem when introducing biologicals is confirmed.

In 2022, environmental remediation activities in the scope of the Great Norilsk Expedition will continue, including assessment of environmental recovery, risks associated with repeated contamination in the result of snowmelt and spring flood, ichthyofauna, biodiversity, and permafrost studies.