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Oil Pipeline Bursts Under Ob River in Siberia

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MOSCOW — A burst pipeline in Siberia led to a dramatic scene on Saturday as partially refined oil caught fire on the ice of the frozen Ob River, according to Russian officials and media reports.

The spill occurred in the heartland of Russia’s oil industry, the Khanty-Mansiysk region of Siberia, which is dotted with wells and crisscrossed by pipelines but is sparsely populated. News reports said one person had been injured.

A local environmental regulator, Svetlana Radionova, posted a statement and video online saying that an underwater pipeline had burst and that “a fire was discovered on the Ob River.”

The video showed flames leaping into the air from what appeared to be the center of the iced-over Ob, one of the huge Siberian rivers that flow from south to north into the Arctic Ocean.

Reports carried by the news agencies Tass and Interfax did not describe the scale of the spill other than to note the size of the burning hole in the river ice as being about a quarter of an acre in size.

Tass, a state news agency, cited unnamed emergency response and industry officials as saying the pipeline carried a mix of partially refined oil products, including propane and butane gas. The reports said the pipeline also carried “light fractions” of oil from a refinery, a description that could include liquids, which are more hazardous for the environment around a spill than gases like propane.

The closest large city is Nizhnevartovsk, the reports said. They described the breach as being in such a remote area that the nearest inhabited settlement was 27 miles away. The Tass report said the pipeline had been shut off and efforts were underway to pump out the contents along its length, lest they spill into the river.



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