Norilsk Nickel Company Caught Red-Handed


On September 5, 2016, the citizens of Norilsk, Siberia woke up to an anomaly unlike anything they had ever seen.  The Daldykan River, which runs on the outskirts of the city, had turned blood red.  Confusion ensued, and hundreds of photos of the strange discoloration were shared on social media.  Environment Ministry officials, Greenpeace Russian activists, and many others searched for a culprit…and what they found was not as shocking as one would think, however, it angered many.  Investigators named the Norilsk Nickle Company, “a metallurgical company” and the “world’s biggest producer of Nickel and Palladium,” as the misdemeanant.  Despite their initial denial of being any part of the unusual staining of the river, their Nadezhda Plant, used for smelting, was specifically held accountable.


The people of Norilsk are used to experiencing surreal events due to the fact that they live in the Arctic Circle, and in one of the biggest mining cities in the world.  However, they have never seen one of their natural beauties, such as the Daldykan River, changed so severely by the very thing that brings their city recognition and a steady income, mining and smelting.  At first, the Norilsk Nickel Company denied having anything to do with the discoloration, and even went as far as posting images of the river and referring to its “natural tone” as “beautifully exotic.” However, their game plan of deny and play dumb failed when evidence was built up against their Nadezhda Plant, which is stationed right next to the Daldykan.  Environment Ministry officials suggested that a leak of chemical pollutants from a pipe at the industrial site could have discolored the river, and not wanting to have a full investigation within their company, Norilsk Nickel announced that “heavy rains on September 4, 2016 caused a filtration dam at Nadezhda to overflow into the Daldykan River.”  They also attempted to appease the activists and indigenous people of Norilsk by ensuring that “the discoloration by harmless iron salts poses no threat to the people or wildlife of the city.”  However, these statements did little to calm the very people they were trying to get off their backs.  The fact that they denied any affiliation to the red staining in the beginning created suspicion and distrust within Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources, who spoke for the citizens of Norilsk when commenting, “You can’t just say it’s no big deal.”  They also explained how Norilsk Nickel Company controls the entire Taymyr Peninsula, where the city and the Daldykan are located.  This led investigators from other departments into starting full investigations on the chemicals and safety protocols used and practiced within the Nadezhda Plant in order to determine whether or not they were abusing their power.  Many citizens and activists are certain that the safety protocols for chemical use are too lax within the company and are demanding answers.


As this bloody case of “who done it’’ plays out, the other factor that makes Norilsk famous is being remembered by not only its citizens, but also the world.  It is one of the most polluted cities on Earth, and I think we can all guess who is to blame for this less than flattering title.  That’s right!  Norilsk Nickel Company.  This definitely does not help them win the favor of the many organizations and citizens that are on the case of the now blood red river that flows outside the city.  It is also raising suspicions on what really dyed the Daldykan River.  The latest comment from Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Greenpeace activist group is that their investigations may have uncovered “an unknown chemical to be the cause of the red staining.”  In response, Norilsk Nickel representatives spoke on the behalf of their Nadezhda Plant by promising to “ensure that incidents such as this do not occur again.”  Of course they are still under investigation, and the Daldykan is still not its normal hue of blue, but officials are still investigating and will not stop until the bloody truth is revealed.