The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko, Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dmitry Kobylkin, Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Siberian Federal District Sergei Menyailo, Krasnoyarsk Territory Governor Alexander Uss, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Head of the Federal Agency for Fishery Ilya Shestakov, Head of the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources Svetlana Radionova, Deputy Head of the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service Alexei Ferapontov and Norilsk Nickel President Vladimir Potanin.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
As we have already agreed, we will discuss today the efforts to eliminate the consequences of the accident that took place in Norilsk on May 29.
We all agreed to keep this situation under constant control and I would like to emphasise in this context that it is necessary not only to promptly fix the problem and eliminate the damage but also to restore as far as possible the harmed environment, all the more so since we are dealing with the Arctic zone’s fragile nature.
I would like to note that, to the best of my knowledge, Russia so far has had no prior experience of containing such major spills on water bodies. Indeed, the Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief and Rosprirodnadzor, territorial services and agencies had to deploy their units. It also became necessary to involve in this work researchers and ecologists and, of course, the business community and the companies on whose territory the disaster happened.
During the last few weeks, we have conducted a truly large-scale effort. I understand that it became possible to rectify the situation, to contain the fuel spill and to start cleaning up the polluted areas. Mr Zinichev reported to me on a regular basis.
Today, I would like to ask you to report whether there are any weighty reasons for lifting the federal emergency situation, and what modern technologies and technological solutions are being used to clean up the soil and water arteries. Please report on their efficiency and whether it is possible to more accurately estimate the financial losses incurred.
Rather than quickly pick up after oneself, the most important thing is to ensure high-quality reclamation of soil and water bodies. Therefore, we need to continue closely monitoring cleanup operations, the storage and transportation of polluted soil. During your previous report, you told me that it would not be so easy.
Obviously, the disaster has brought dire consequences for the environment and severely impacted biodiversity in water bodies. It will take a lot of time to reclaim and restore the environment, and Norilsk Nickel Co. employees must continue with the work until they have completely eliminated all the damage.
As you are aware, I have instructed Rosprirodnadzor to inspect similar facilities in Norilsk and nationwide. Today, I would like to ask you to dwell upon this matter separately.
As I have already mentioned, national legislation should stipulate mechanisms for preventing similar situations, for quickly and comprehensively responding to them and redressing their consequences. In this connection, I would like to ask the Government and the State Duma to speed up their work on the relevant bills.
Let us get down to work.
Vladimir Putin: In conclusion, I would like to say that I think everyone understands that this negative development could have been prevented if there was the right control by the related agencies, and not just to shake everyone like a tree but to prevent these accidents. This means that a business-like, systematic approach is necessary. And, as we have just said, this event brought to light a number of systemic problems, which must be identified and worked on immediately. Every necessary measure must be taken to improve the legislative base and amend the law.
(To Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko.) I would like to ask you to revise the work of all our corresponding organisations, and oversight agencies. Where were they? They saw that fuel was leaking out. Why was there no timely response? You know, this makes me wonder about how this is organised practically.
I would like to ask you to analyse this very carefully: not to punish but to prevent problems like this, and not just in the Arctic, where the ecosystem requires special care and special protection, but everywhere in Russia. Not only do the local northern peoples suffer from this; people everywhere can be affected. This is a very serious issue, and I would like to handle it seriously.
Of course, I thank you for the work you have done to mitigate the outcome of the spill, but I am asking you to complete everything and report on proposals from various agencies. I would also like to ask Emergencies Minister Mr Zinichev to report to me when the work is over, once you decide that your personnel and equipment can be withdrawn.