Oil oozed from the East-Siberia - Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline, launched about a month ago, in the third such accident in less than two months, a regional spokesman for environmental issues said on Friday. The leak occurred late on Thursday in the Olekminsky district in Russia's eastern Siberian republic of Yakutia. The area of oil pollution is reported to be about 500 square meters (5382 sq. ft.) However, regional emergencies officials have not yet confirmed the incident, saying that they are presently "gathering information." Earlier this month, a considerable amount of oil leaked near the terminus of the pipeline near the town of Skovorodino in the Amur Region.
On January 20, about 450 cubic meters of oil leaked from the pipeline during maintenance work, polluting an area of over 20,000 square meters (over 215,000 sq. ft.). The ESPO project is designed to pump up to 1.6 million barrels (220,000 tons) of crude per day from Siberia to Russia's Far East and then on to China and the Asia-Pacific region. The first leg of the pipeline was launched by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on December 28, 2009.