Since Sunday November 11, Finland is experiencing one of the largest chemical disaster of the 21st century when significant water leak, 5,000-6,000 cubic meters per hour, with high concentrations of nickel and uranium has occurred on Talvivaara mining project. According to the first estimates, the leakage was occurred when a crack appeared on the lake of mine waste (Sotkamo nickel mine) while on Wednesday the company said that the leakage has stopped.
Jehki Härkönen, member of Greenpeace Finland describing the situation as following:
“The leaking water contains toxic heavy metals, chemicals and some uranium, but we don’t know yet how much of it made its way out of the mine and how contaminated exactly it was. We have been present outside the mine area the whole day and facilitated a web push against the regional authority that refuses to close down the mine despite continous problems. The minister of environment also turned up at the site today and said they “will call in the army” to repair the pools if necessary, this being the third time they have a leak from the same pool (The problems begun at 2008). There’s also a continuous flood of scandals turning up at this mine including people who switched between building parts of the mine and acting as the environmental authority resposible for inspecting the very same structures.”
While minister Ville Niinistö (Greens), considers the mine’s operation borderline illegal. Niinistö believes that the problems are caused by outdated structures dating back to less strict policies. “I’m frustrated with the situation. Many people are fed up, and so am I,” said Niinistö.
Moreover, Seppo Rekolainen, Head of Finnish Environment Insitute SYKE’s Freshwater Centre says that “This is one of the worst environmental disasters I can remember that has been caused by an industrial accident”
Kainuu’s Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) has warned against drinking or using the waters within ten kilometres of Talvivaara. According to ELY this is just a precaution to prevent possible health effects.
Harri Natunen, Talvivaara CEO, promised that this leak would be the last as he reassured that the rist for future leaks will be eliminated. Moreover, he said that the burden will not fall on taxpayers eventhough he didn’t want to speculate on the total cost of the damage done so far.
Eventhough, Talvivaara mining project was a promising one, as it could be one more source of employment and tax revenue for northern Finland, at the end it turned to be a nightmare for the citizens and the environment too.