MOSCOW, July 29 (Reuters) - Russia's state fisheries agency
has filed a claim for 58.7 billion roubles ($801 million) in
damages from Nornickel over an Arctic fuel spill, an
amount the metal producer said it would challenge.
Nornickel, the world's leading nickel and palladium
producer, has already paid $2 billion for environmental damage
from the leak of 21,000 tonnes of diesel into rivers and subsoil
from a storage tank at its power plant in Norilsk in May 2020.
The spill in Norilsk, an industrial city in the Arctic
Circle, was Russia's worst environmental disaster in the Arctic
this century, environmentalists say.
Announcing that it had filed the claim for damages, the
Rosrybolovstvo fisheries agency said in a statement that the
spill had polluted lakes, and rivers leading to the Kara Sea.
It put the cost of work to restore aquatic bioresources at
more than 55 billion roubles and estimated direct damage caused
by death of fish at 3.6 billion roubles.
The agency said last year the rivers and lakes would take 18
years to recover.
Nornickel said Rosrybolovstvo's damages claim was
unreasonably overstated and that it would challenge both the
claim and the methodology used for its calculation in court.
The estimate of the damage "is many times higher than
results of calculations made by specialised scientific
institutions to assess the impact of the spill on aquatic
bioresources," Nornickel said in a statement.
Nornickel said the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of
Sciences estimated direct damage to the Doldykan and Ambarnaya
rivers and the Pyasino Lake was between 1.9 million and 52.1
million roubles, depending on the basis for the calculations.
Nornickel did not disclose its estimate of costs for
restoration of bioresources in the area.
($1 = 73.2690 roubles)
(Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva and Anastasia Lyrchikova;
Writing by Alexander Marrow and Polina Devitt; Editing by Alex
Richardson and Timothy Heritage)