The Rivers Ran Black

A huge oil spill fouls Russia's far north, raising specters of Alaska's Exxon Valdez disaster

No one would ever accuse the former Soviet republics of going overboard on environmental protection. But even by their low standards, the news that began trickling out of Russia last week was appalling. A ruptured pipeline in the northwestern Komi republic has dumped a huge amount of oil onto the Arctic landscape, contaminating wetlands and fouling waterways. An eyewitness reported that on one river the crude has formed a noxious slick measuring six to seven miles long, 14 yards wide and a yard deep. The spill's total volume, say U.S. Department of Energy officials, could be as much as 2 million...

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