Norilsk Oil Spill and The Necessity for Proper Planning and Bund Design

Jun 16, 2020 | Bunding and Containment, Environmental Compliance, News | 0 comments

As headlines about systemic racism and a coronavirus pandemic occupy the news, other significant events have been pushed to the back pages. Just a few months ago, images of 22,000 tonnes of oil spilling into the Arctic circle would have been major news. 16,500 tonnes of it has entered the river system in eastern Russia according to Reuters. 

The accident occurred at a metallurgical plant which is located near Norilsk, Russia. The company that owns the plant said that beams supporting a storage tank suddenly sank, triggering the spill. This structural failure was due to melting permafrost.

To put this spill into perspective, the Deepwater Horizon spill spilled about 206 million tonnes of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Still, Russian government sources said the river would need decades to recover. This draws into focus basic containment requirements from a planning level and essential secondary & tertiary containment.

Planning for storage of Hazardous Materials must now take in to account the effects of climate change. It is easy to ignore the changing climate in places as remote as Norilsk, but relaxed environmental policies can have drastic consequences at a local level when something like a permafrost melt undermines the structural integrity of a bund and tank farm. 

Environmental Efficiency has been carrying out Bund integrity inspections and planning applications for 20 years and can advise on all aspects of bund design, integrity assessments and best practice, including fire resistance of bunds.

Author: George Byrne, MIEI, MIEnvSc