The government of Russia's Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk has lifted the state of emergency in the Arctic city of Norilsk that was imposed in late May last year following a massive diesel spill.
The regional government's press service said on June 22 that the decision was made after "three major phases on the localization and liquidation of the spill were completed." "Work continues on processing the contaminated soil and sorbent agents and the restoration of lands and water bodies in the area," the statement said. In May 2020, more than 21,000 tons of diesel leaked into the environment from a tank of a thermal power plant that belongs to a subsidiary of Russian metallurgical giant Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel), owned by Russia's richest man, Vladimir Potanin.
The spill sparked an outcry and led to Norilsk Mayor Rinat Akhmetchin being fired and sentenced to six months of correctional work for negligence in October.
In the wake of the disaster, President Vladimir Putin ordered a state of emergency after the extent of the spill became known. In March this year, Nornickel said it had fully paid off more than 146 billion rubles (almost $2 billion) in damages for the spill.
Also in March, the chief of Russia's Federal Penitentiary System (FSIN), Aleksandr Kalashnikov, said convicts may be used to help clean the contaminated zone near Norilsk.
The use of inmate labor in major state projects used to be a regular practice in the former Soviet Union.