Norilsk Rejects Criticism by RusAl

Norilsk Nickel, the world's biggest producer of nickel and palladium, rejected criticism of its environmental record by Oleg Deripaska's United Company RusAl, saying its second-largest shareholder misconstrued data.

RusAl "knowingly or unknowingly used information that doesn't correspond to reality in an attempt to portray the situation as 'catastrophic,'" Norilsk chief executive Vladimir Strzhalkovsky said in an open letter to his RusAl counterpart, Alexander Bulygin, a copy of which was e-mailed to reporters Friday.

RusAl, the world's largest aluminum producer, said Tuesday in an open letter to Strzhalkovsky that it was ready to prepare and fund a feasibility study to clean up the Russian smelters of Norilsk Nickel. RusAl owns 25 percent of the company.

"Regarding the alleged investments to modernize Norilsk facilities, which are indeed explained on the company's web site, neither we nor the state environmental authorities see any result,'' RusAl said Friday in a statement.

The information RusAl cited in its letter came from the government, Greenpeace and the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based nongovernmental organization that rated the town of Norilsk as one of the world's 10 most polluted places last year, RusAl said.