Russia: "In Focus: Drip By Drip, a Torrent of Oil Pollution"

"Russia's vast tundra has been ravaged by oil companies unwilling to clean up their acts."

"USINSK, Russia -- On the tundra outside this oil town near the Arctic Circle, a pitch-black pool of crude stretches toward the horizon. The source: a decommissioned well whose rusty valves ooze with oil, viscous like jam.

This is the face of Russia's oil country, a sprawling, inhospitable zone that experts say represents the world's worst ecological oil catastrophe.

Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. That is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months.

Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world's largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output. Oil, stubbornly seeping through rusty pipelines and old wells, contaminates soil, kills all plants that grow on it and destroys habitats for mammals and birds."

Nataliya Vasilyeva reports for the Associated Press December 18, 2011.

Source: AP, 12/19/2011