Russia’s Emergencies Minister Yevgeniy Zinichev Launches Large-Scale Experimental-Research Exercises in the Arctic Zone

On 7 September, in Dudinka (Krasnoyarsk Territory), head of Russia’s Ministry for Emergencies Yevgeniy Zinichev launched large-scale, interdepartmental, experimental-research exercises in the Arctic. Seven regions are involved, from the Murmansk Region to the Chukotka Autonomous Republic. The event is taking place as part of the Russian Federation’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the operator being the Roscongress Foundation.

Under Arctic Conditions, on land and water, six thousand specialists are developing 12 scenarios for eliminating possible emergencies and fulfilling almost 100 experimental-research tasks. 47 new types of equipment, gear and methodology will be tested, while collaboration has been organized between 18 federal executive bodies and state corporations, as well as five economic entities of the Russian Federation.

By video-conferencing, the Minister heard representatives of the bodies organizing the exercises about the preparedness of RUERS forces and resources for performing the exercises.

“The exercises are taking place in regions bordering directly on the waters of the Northern Sea route, this being the first time that such an event has been held in the Arctic. The format, geographical scope, quantity and composition of the forces and resources involved confirm their uniqueness. The competencies of each participating specialist are both important and essential. And the situations they are practising are characteristic of the Arctic region”, Zinichev noted.

Following the ceremonial launch, the departmental head took personal control over elimination of simulated emergencies at three exercise stations. The group of forces and resources engaged in the exercises in the region included over 840 people and more than 150 pieces of equipment, among them 18 water craft and four aircraft.

At the port of Dudinka, detachments eliminated a simulated fire on the Avraamiy Zavenyagin icebreaker, carrying hazardous chemical substances. The accident caused chlorine to leak from the vessel. A newly developed UDAV-10 mobile fire-fighting unit was involved in putting out the fire.

At a major oil base, according to the scenario, there was an explosion of a vapour-air mixture under the roof or a vertical steel tank with a 5 thousand cubic metre capacity, resulting in petroleum products catching fire. For the first time, to extinguish such a difficult fire effectively, a unique piece of laser equipment was used to make an aperture in the reservoir wall to allow robots to deliver fire-extinguishing substances directly into the cistern. Elimination of the simulated emergency was also accelerated by use of pilot models of Burlak and Purga rough-terrain vehicles with stationary fire-suppression systems for delivering foam.

In parallel, at the oil base, during pumping of petroleum products into the tank battery, a simulated diesel fuel spillage spread into the waters of the Yenisei River. To localize the spill, the experts used a special retaining wall with adsorbent sausage booms. The petroleum product was rapidly collected from the surface water using a skimmer and pumped into prefabricated frame containers, while work was carried out to gather up the contaminated soil.

On Kabatsky Island, units successfully extinguished a tundra fire using aircraft and the latest equipment. According to the scenario, the fire reached the island’s coastline and spread in two directions. To put it out, a group of rescuers were parachuted in with fire-fighting equipment including three parachute-cargo systems with snow and swamp-going vehicles, power-driven pumps, knapsack tanks and inflatable boats. First ever use was made of a system for parachuting in off-road, compact and robotic vehicles. During elimination of the simulated emergency, the rescuers carried out a unique experiment: using a special robotic complex, they installed rapid-hardening barrier foam. A Be-200ChS aircraft and rescuers on three boats were also deployed.

The minister emphasised that the Arctic region is specific in its remoteness, difficult natural and climatic conditions, and limited transport accessibility. All this could impact on the scale of possible emergencies and their consequences, so the Russian Ministry of Emergencies focuses particular attention on this territory. “The work of the RUERS detachments today during the exercises has shown that any problems can be resolved. Each of the simulated emergency liquidation scenarios is orientated on improving existing or developing new rescue technologies in the Arctic, and the results of the two-day exercises will be comprehensively analysed. This will allow the emergency rescue infrastructure to be developed more efficiently and the full range of issues involved in ensuring safety in the Arctic region to be resolved”, Zinichev stressed.

During the working visit to Dudinka, the head of Russia’s Ministry of Emergencies was acquainted with the operating conditions of the field camp of the department’s mobile detachments. He went on to visit a number of other significant facilities.

The exercises were organized on 7–8 September on the instructions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In addition to Russian specialists, 50 foreign delegates from 20 countries (Finland, Denmark, the USA, Canada, Norway and others) took part in them either directly or via video-conferencing, including representatives of the International Civil Defence Organization and the World Wildlife Fund. Apart from the exercise stations, the business programme includes nine events in six Russian cities.

Official website of the Russian Federation’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council: