- Title: RUSSIA: FIRE BREAKS OUT AT MAJOR OIL SPILL IN NORTH KOMI REGION
- Date: 19th May 1995
- Summary: MOSCOW AND NEAR USINSK, RUSSIA (MAY 19, 1995)(RTV - ACCESS ALL) USINSK (MAY 19) 1. GV/SV FIRE AND FIREFIGHTERS (5 SHOTS) 0.30 MOSCOW 2. SLV RUSSIAN EMERGENCIES MINISTRY CHIEF SPOKESPERSON MARINA RYKLINA SHOWING SITE OF FIRE ON MAP OF EUROPE/ CU MAP (2 SHOTS) 0.38 3. SV RYKLINA SAYING "BURNING OFF OIL IS NOT GOOD FOR NATURE, BUT WHAT CAN WE DO? WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO PREVENT OIL ENTERING RIVER KOLVA." (ENGLISH) 0.53 MOSCOW 4. MCU GREENPEACE OFFICE, LOGO 0.58 5. SV GREENPEACE SPOKESMAN IVAN BLOKOV SAYING "BURNING WILL DESTROY SOIL FOR A VERY LONG TIME AND SMOKE WILL DAMAGE AREA AND THAT KOMINEFT SAYS BURNING IS ECOLOGICALLY SAFE - FUNNY WORDS - AS IF IT IS SAFE TO BURN 9,000 TONNES OF OIL." (ENGLISH) 1.28 6. CU CUTAWAY GREENPEACE MAP OF OIL SPILL AREA 1.33 7. SV BLOKOV SAYING KOMINEFT SAYS "ONLY 14,000 TONNES WERE SPILLED AGAINST WORLD BANK ESTIMATE OF 100,000 TONNES AND FINE WILL DEPEND ON AMOUNT SPILLED, SO IT IS IN KOMINEFT'S INTERESTS TO MAKE OIL DISAPPEAR BY BURNING IT."(ENGLISH) 1.52 USINSK 8. GV/LV VIEW OF FIRE/OIL SPILL/SMOKE (3 SHOTS) 2.26 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 3rd June 1995 13:00
- Location: NEAR USINSK, KOMI AND MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- Country: Russia
- Reuters ID: LVA4N18CZUSTOHOZJH3ENOYSBYGV
- Story Text: Fire has broken out at the site of a major oil spill in Russia's far north Komi region, setting ablaze much of the polluted area, the United States-Australian clean-up team said on Friday (May 19).
"The fire was not intentionally set nor was it a part of AES/Hartec's clean-up strategy," the joint venture said.
However their claims that the fire was accidental were contradicted by official sources.
A spokesperson for Russia's Emergencies Ministry, Marina Ryklina, admitted the burning off was environmentally harmful, but said it was necessary to stop the oil entering the River Kolva.
And Itar-Tass news agency quoted the Komi Republic's Ministry for Emergency Situations as saying oilmen were burning off the residue of the oil spill to limit the danger of it getting into nearby rivers.
"Sources report that contrary to calculations, the fire within the polluted area has spread beyond the intended area," Tass said.
The AES/Hartec statement said the fire started on Thursday, but the cause was unknown.
The site near the town of Usinsk was located in a bog where dams and dikes have been built to contain the oil following last year's spill from a corroded pipeline.
Estimates of the size of the spill vary from 14,000 tonnes to 300,000. The Russian environment ministry puts it at between 90,000 and 120,000 - nearly three times as much as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound, Alaska.
AES/Hartec quoted witnesses as saying the area on fire covered about 10 hectares (25 acres) of the total spill area of about 70 hectares (170 acres).
The environmental group Greenpeace also claimed the fire was started deliberately. Spokesman Ivan Blokov said Greenpeace had obtained documents detailing an application to burn off 9,000 tonnes of oil in an outlying area which could not be reached by cleanup trucks.
He said the burning of the oil would have serious environmental effects, destroying soil and damaging the atmosphere.
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