NewsOrsk Refinery Shuts Down as Burst Dam Floods Russian City, Thousands Evacuated

Orsk Refinery Shuts Down as Burst Dam Floods Russian City, Thousands Evacuated

Refinery in Orsk
Refinery in Orsk
Images source: © | Orsk

4:57 PM EDT, April 7, 2024

The Russian crude oil refinery in Orsk halted operations on Sunday after a dam burst in the city on Friday evening, triggering floods in the Orenburg area. According to RIA Novosti, the shutdown was a preventative measure to avert environmental hazards and ensure safety compliance.

In Orsk, positioned in the southern Ural mountains, the dam burst on Friday and partially collapsed. This event led to the evacuation of over 4,000 residents and flooded around 2,500 homes, as reported by AFP.

As noted by RIA Novosti, suspending operations at the Orsk refinery was a crucial step in preventing environmental dangers.

Located near the Russia-Kazakhstan border, the refinery boasts an annual production capacity of 6 million tons of crude oil and produces gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel. Its products are distributed to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan.

The Great Flood

According to the press services of Denis Pasler, governor of the Orenburg region, "4,208 people have been evacuated, including 1,019 children."

Pasler further stated that evacuated residents are accommodated in temporary centers, including schools, and will receive financial support. He highlighted the severity of the city's situation, noting the "significant scale of damage."

The BBC reports the discovery of three bodies by rescue teams, although it's not specified if their deaths were directly linked to the dam's flooding.

Dam Partially Collapsed

The local prosecutor's office linked the floods directly to the dam's bursting and partial collapse, mentioning additional complications from precipitation and snowmelt in the mountains. They also pointed out that local authorities were warned in March about non-compliance with disaster prevention regulations.

Orenburg's Mayor, Sergey Salmin, noted the situation is worsening due to the rising water levels in the Ural River, potentially reaching a critical point. Reuters highlights that floods have recently impacted the entire Orenburg region and parts of neighboring Kazakhstan.

A state of emergency was declared in the Orenburg region, adjacent to Kazakhstan. According to the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations, nearly 500 personnel are working on dam repairs, supported by heavy equipment and incoming rescue teams.

The BBC notes that the dam's collapse in Orsk has intensified the already severe flood conditions, echoing statements from local officials.

In Kazakhstan, floods have also wreaked havoc; President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev remarked in a Saturday speech that the event is "probably the biggest natural disaster in terms of the scale of consequences in 80 years".

Related content