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Massive Russian spill threatens Arctic.

In late August, an 18-year-old pipeline just south of the Arctic Circle spewed crude oil onto fragile Russian tundra near the town of Usinsk. Komineft, the Russian oil company that owns the pipeline, erected earthen dams to contain the growing lakes of oil as crews worked to patch the latest in this pipeline's long history of leaks.

But around Oct. 1, heavy rains caused some of the oil-holding dikes to collapse, Komineft acknowledged last week. The body of crude released -- variously described as anywhere from one-half to eight times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill -- fouled miles of local rivers and streams.

Cold weather has slowed the spilled oil's flow rate, and cleanup technologies have removed much of the crude. But Russian officials warn that once the area thaws next spring, the remaining oil may continue wending its way north toward the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean.
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Title Annotation:spill one-half to eight times size of 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill fouls rivers and streams mear Usinsk, Russia, near Arctic Circle
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 5, 1994
Words:149
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