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Most Oil From Major Pipeline Spill Recovered

A company cleaning up the world’s largest oil spill on land says it has recovered about 94 percent of the oil that leaked from a decrepit pipeline in northern Russia last year.

Leaks along the pipeline near the oil city of Usinsk released between 100,000 to 300,000 tons of oil - three to eight times the volume that leaked out of the Exxon Valdez, the United States’ largest oil spill.

The spill covered more than 430 acres, including nearly 25 miles of streams, in the Komi region just below the Arctic circle. Many areas were covered by a layer of oil more than a yard thick.

Pipeline owner Komineft got loans of $99 million from the World Bank and $25 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to finance cleanup efforts, pipeline overhaul and social programs for the area.

AES/Hartec, an Australian-American company, was hired by Komineft to do the cleanup. Project director Bert Hartley told reporters Friday that 94 percent of the oil has been recovered.

Hartley said the remaining oil is contained and should be removed in the spring so that the nearby salmon-rich Kolva river would not be polluted.

AES/Hartec will keep a team of experts in Usinsk to monitor remaining contaminated areas and plan for the spring operations.


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