Analytical Instrumentation

  • What Caused the Moscow Oil Spill?

What Caused the Moscow Oil Spill?

Jul 30 2020 Read 233 Times

A recent oil spill in Moscow has raised concerns over how petroleum was able to infiltrate a river that feeds the Khimki Reservoir, which provides water to the Russian capital. The spill triggered a 1000-fold increase in water pollution, with the Federal Water Resources Agency saying the incident was likely caused by oil from a municipal storm drain company flowing into the waterway.

“Lab samples by the Moscow Oka Basin Water Management Office showed excess concentration by more than 1000 times of permissible petroleum product [levels],” said the agency in a statement. 

Spill threatens drinking water supply, kills local wildlife

After being discovered on June 25, the Khimki Reservoir oil slick increased from 900 square metres to almost 22,900 square metres. Authorities installed floating booms in an attempt to contain the spread, though not before scores of fish died as a result of oxygen deprivation. Local water birds were also affected.

Vakhtang Astakhov, laboratory chief at the Moscow Oka Basin Water Management Office says a government-run storm drain company called Khimvodostok is at fault for failing to upgrade waste treatment equipment. The company was issued with a court order to do so in 2018 though failed to complete the upgrades.

“Enforcing the court decision would have prevented or minimised the contamination of Moscow’s drinking water reservoir,” says Vakhtang Astakhov, laboratory chief at the Moscow Oka Basin Water Management Office. “Now, our experts are working around the clock to remove the oil spill and rehabilitate the area,” adds Astakhov.

Federal Water Resources Agency warns of crackdown

“In the future, Rosvodoresursy will consider seeking compensation for damage and the funds spent on the clean-up from the identified culprit of the water pollution,” reads the report issued by the Federal Water Resources Agency.

It’s not the first time Russia has been plagued with a major oil spill, with the Khimki Reservoir incident coming just months after 21,000 metric tons of diesel fuel infiltrated waterways and land near Norilsk, an industrial city in Krasnoyarsk Krai. For Russian authorities, it’s a curt reminder of the importance of upgrading equipment and continually revising safety and environmental procedures.

Oil isn’t the only threat to the environment, with methane also a major concern. To find out more about the importance of tracking CH4 emissions don’t miss ‘Methane monitoring is a ’must’’ which spotlights new techniques such as optical gas imaging, portable FID/PID sniffers and open path infrared optical gas detectors.

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