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Russia pipeline leak pollutes 15km of Black Sea coast

02 January 2015

A significant leak from an oil pipeline on the Russian Black Sea coast on December 23 caused a state of emergency to be declared in the town of Tuapse two days later, with stormy weather hampering cleanup efforts. More than 300 workers were at the scene on December 25, according to the Krasnodar regional government website.

Stock image
Stock image

Pipeline operator ChernomorTransneft, a subsidiary of Russia's main oil transport company Transneft, said the breach was caused by a landslide. The pipeline supplies a major oil refinery in Tuapse operated by Russian oil giant Rosneft.

The environmental NGO WWF said the spill had polluted 15 kilometres of the Black Sea shore by December 25, and accused Rosneft and Transneft of failing to act quickly and understating the real extent of the damage.

"According to WWF's information regarding the surface area and characteristics of the spill, the volume of the spill could be 500 to 700 tons," news agency AFP reported WWF as saying.

The NGO said the consequences could have been avoided if the energy company had alerted local authorities about the accident immediately instead of delaying its response for many hours.

Russia is thought to be responsible for more of the world’s oil spills than any other country.

WWF and Greenpeace estimate that at least 5 million tons leak every year in a country producing about 500 million tons a year, according to news agency AP, an estimate that is supported by the Russian government-financed Institute of the Environment and Genetics of Microorganisms.

Most Russian oil spills are not detected because the majority take place in unpopulated tundra and conifer forest in the north, caused either by ruptured pipes or leakage from decommissioned wells.

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