Environmentalists in the Nenets region of northern Russia have disputed the latest claims from oil giant Lukoil that a spill near the Kharyaga field poses “no danger to settlements, economic and water supply facilities”.


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Speaking to Upstream, head of local non-governmental organisation Committee to Save Pechora, Ivan Ivanov, said that local residents recently spotted oil on the water surface near the so-called First Bridge across the Kolva river, or about 170 kilometres downstream from the site of the spill.

Lukoil spokesperson Vitaly Matushkin said on Tuesday that the company, together with local authorities, has installed six rows of booms to contain patches of oil that spilled last week from a pipeline river crossing.

Matushkin added that emergency teams are using now removing oil traces from the river.

Urgent tests of water samples in the Kolva, Usa and Pechora rivers have showed maximum permissible concentration of oil has not been exceeded, according to statements from Lukoil and regional authorities.

However, Ivanov said that independent control over Lukoil’s efforts to clean up the spill is not easy as there are no roads along the Kolva river banks.

Ivanov also questioned repeated statements from Lukoil that just a small number of barrels of oil leaked into the Kolva river from an “idled pipeline”, suggesting both the time when the leak started and and the true size of the spill remain unconfirmed.

On Monday, authorities in neighbouring Komi region declared a regional emergency in anticipation that oil from the Kolva river may move into the Usa river and then to the Pechora river.

These last two rivers are located in Komi and are used as sources of water supply for towns and cities in the region.

Authorities in the Nenets region, meanwhile, said that they have more than doubled to over 180 the number of workers assigned to contain the spill.