ERM Confirms Nornickel's Findings of Permafrost Thaw as Key Trigger of the Fuel Spill Incident in Norilsk


​Among the causes of the emergency diesel tank failure, ERM listed increased permafrost temperature, linked to reduced adfreeze and bearing capacity of soils and resultant creep settlement of the tank’s piles, some of which appear to not had been installed into bedrock at the construction stage in the 1980s. ERM believes that if all tank’s piles had been installed as designed into the bedrock, the failure would not have happened.

ERM consultants also noted that Nornickel’​s response to the emergency spill was in line with good international practice and efficient, recognizing the scale of the incident and logistical challenges associated with the environment. ERM supplied the report with detailed recommendations on how to improve industrial safety at Nornickel’s Arctic facilities going forward.

Nornickel’s Environmental Task Team (ETT), comprised entirely of independent directors, has received the ERM report, accepted its recommendations and has forwarded them to the Nornickel’s Board. The Board in turn has discussed its findings with ERM and has endorsed its recommendations.

Gareth Penny, Chairman of the ETT and of the Board of Nornickel commented on the report submitted to ERM:

“I was impressed with the thoroughness of the report presented by ERM. The report had been well received by the Board and its recommendations supported for implementation by management. It was important that a globally recognised and respected firm such as ERM had undertaken an independent review of events and follow-up efforts by the company. Important progress had been made, with much that remained to be achieved. Nornickel remained fully committed to making the necessary progress in environmental affairs to ensure its operations adhered to world-class standards.”

Sergey Dyachenko, First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Nornickel, said:

"The company is fully responsible for the accident regardless of its cause. ERM’s findings confirmed that the new climate change risks have emerged, which we must learn to address. We are already acting, and are deploying permafrost monitoring under the foundations of our most dangerous production facilities in Taimyr as part of a 100 billion-rouble programme to improve industrial safety. The monitoring project includes satellite imaging, evaluation of supporting posts and soil temperature by means of confirmative geological drilling, installation of strain gauges and temperature sensors, and an upgrade of the Polar Division's Diagnostic Centre and the permafrost laboratory.” 

MMC Norilsk Nickel, headed by Vladimir Potanin, has extended a set of vast new measures in an effort to localise and neutralise the effects of the incident in what has become the country’s largest environmental rescue effort in the Far North.

MMC Norilsk Nickel is a diversified mining and metallurgical company, the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum and copper. The company also produces cobalt, rhodium, silver, gold, iridium, ruthenium, selenium, tellurium, sulfur and other products. The production units of Norilsk Nickel Group are located at the Norilsk Industrial District, on the Kola Peninsula and Zabaykalsky Krai in Russia as well as in Finland and South Africa. Shares of MMC Norilsk Nickel are listed on the Moscow and on the Saint-Petersburg Stock Exchanges, its ADRs are traded over the counter in the US and on the London, Berlin and Frankfurt Stock Exchanges.

Contact: Tatyana Egorova,

ERM is a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, social consulting services and sustainability-related services. We work with the world's leading organizations, delivering innovative solutions and helping them to understand and manage their sustainability challenges. To do this, we have more than 5,500 people in over 40 countries and territories working out of more than 160 offices.

Contact information is at:

Source: MMC Norilsk Nickel


Categories: Mining

Tags: accident mitigation, EMR, fuel spill, Norilsk Nickel, Vladimir Potanin

Additional Links