Police investigate whether to bring criminal charges over nickel leak in Finland

YLE NewsEye on the Arctic

A maximum sentence of six years in prison could be leveled at those responsible for the chemical leak earlier this month from a mine operated by Norilsk Nickel in southwest Finland.

Police have begun investigating a mining leak in western Finland that saw 66 metric tons of nickel dispersed into the Kokemäki river, causing the death of fish and mussels in the waterway.

A spokesperson for the police said they will decide whether to bring charges of aggravated impairment of the environment against those responsible.

The offense, which under the Finnish criminal code is committed when someone causes long-term, wide ranging and serious damage to the environment, carries a maximum custodial sentence of six years.

The leak of nickel and other industrial sulfates was discovered at the start of July at the Harjavalta mine near Pori, western Finland, which sits on the bank of the Kokemäki river.

The mine is operated by Norilsk Nickel, and represents the largest nickel spillage on record in Finland’s history.

Pori City Council says that people should not eat fish from the Kokemäki river until sample fish have been tested for nickel levels.

The police examination is being carried out alongside other official bodies who are investigating the environmental impact on the area, including southwest Finland’s regional development agency, also known as an ELY center.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.