• ESA's satellites captured photos of the oil spill in the Arctic Circle from space
  • Satellite images show the oil spill making its way through a system of rivers and lakes
  • Russia confirmed that the oil spill has been stopped and contained 

A major oil spill that happened in Russia and affected the Arctic Circle was spotted from space by two satellites of the European Space Agency (ESA). Although Russian officials already confirmed that the spill had been stopped, the incident prompted the country’s government to declare a state of emergency.

The incident started on May 29 after a power plant’s reservoir in the city of Norilsk in Siberia collapsed. The accident caused about 20,000 tons of diesel to leak into an Arctic Circle river.

The ESA was able to monitor the incident from space through its Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, according to The mission, which consists of the twin satellites Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-2B, had two separate launches in 2015 and 2017. The goal of the mission is to study Earth by taking images from orbit.

Through the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites, the ESA was able to spot the areas affected by the oil spill. As seen in the images obtained by the agency, the red-colored oil traveled down the Ambarnaya River before flowing into Lake Pyasino.

In total, the oil spill contaminated a massive land area of 135 square miles. It was regarded as the worst oil spill ever in the Arctic region.

In response to the incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency. He also slammed the power planet known as NTEK, which is a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, for the delay in informing the government regarding the incident.

“Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?” Putin said during a video conference. “Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media? Are you quite healthy there?" Putin asked NTEK chief Sergei Lipin in an unusually stern dressing-down.”

Almost a week following the incident, officials from Russia confirmed that the oil spill had been stopped and contained. As of June 5, Russia’s Emergencies Ministry confirmed that it has already removed 200 tons of fuel in the affected region.

“We have stopped the spread of the petroleum products,” a spokesperson for the ministry stated. “They are contained in all directions, they are not going anywhere now.”

Oil Spill
This handout photo released by European Space Agency captured on Saturday, May 31, 2020 by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission shows the extent of the oil spill, in red, near a power plant in the Siberian city of Norilsk, 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) northeast of Moscow, Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency in a region of Siberia after an estimated 20,000 tons of diesel fuel spilled from a power plant storage facility and fouled waterways. ESA