Briefing on the environmental damage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine (28 April - 3 May 2022)

5 May 2022, 09:42
News

As of the 69th day since the beginning of the large-scale Russian invasion, the Ukrainian government continues to record the occupiers' numerous crimes against the environment.

On April 29, 2022, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved amendments to the Procedure for Determining Damage Caused to Ukraine as a Result of Russia's Armed Aggression and expanded the areas in which damage to Ukraine's environment will be determined. 

Also, the Methodology for calculation of the amount of emissions into the atmosphere of pollutants from Russian bombings and the amount of damage caused by such emissions came into force on April 29.

"From the first day of the war, we have launched all the possible tools to monitor the damage caused by the occupiers to the Ukrainian environment. Together with subordinate government agencies and environmental activists, we record all environmental crimes of Russians. We are developing algorithms for calculating the inflicted damage. We are expanding the indicators that are being evaluated. All this will form the basis of materials for filling to the UN International Court of Justice and taking the occupiers accountable," commented the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine Ruslan Strilets.

 

Nuclear and radiation safety threats

Ukraine has officially informed the IAEA that on April 16, 2022, a video surveillance camera recorded the Russian missile flying directly over the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant.

"The IAEA is studying the evidence, and if it is confirmed, the incident will have extremely serious consequences. If such missile changed its trajectory, it could seriously affect the physical integrity of the nuclear power plant and lead to a nuclear accident", commented Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at a press conference in Vienna following his recent visit to Ukraine.

The current situation in the Exclusion Zone of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant does not pose a threat to public health and the environment. All radiation hazardous facilities of the Chornobyl NPP and in the Exclusion Zone are intact, but in some places along the roads and at checkpoints the levels of beta and gamma radiation are higher than before the Russian occupation. This increase was caused by a large number of Russian military vehicles which moved through the Exclusion Zone, damaging contaminated soils and rising dust.

On April 30, the reliable power supply connection in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone was restored after the 330 kW transmission line had been put into operation.

The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (captured on March 4) is still controlled by the Russian military. On April 28, the ZNPP was temporarily switched to a minimal power level supplying only its own needs due to damage of the 330 kW high-voltage line in the southern region of Ukraine caused by the shellings. On April 29, the capacity of ZNPP power units was restored to the previous levels after the repair works had been completed. The radiation level on the territory of the industrial site of Zaporizhzhya NPP and in the sanitary protection zone is within the norms.

On April 29, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the Strategy of the Integrated Automated Radiation Monitoring System.

"The war and regular radiation safety threats from Russia created an urgent need to combine all the radiation monitoring data, create a unified system at the state level and integrate it into the EURDEP, the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform. It is an extremely important security issue for both Ukraine and Europe. The integrated monitoring system will allow us to detect in real-time and respond quickly to the threats of radioactive substances being transferred in Ukraine and abroad," said Ruslan Strilets, Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine.

 

Recent attacks on infrastructure and industrial sites

On April 28, the Russian missile strikes caused fires at industrial facilities in Kyiv and in the Kyiv region, and at an infrastructure facility in the Shepetivka district of the Khmelnytsky region.

On May 1, a Russian missile attack led to a fire breaking out at an agricultural enterprise in the Synelnykivskyi district of the Dnipropetrovsk region. 

On May 1, due to the shelling from the Russian side a fire broke out in the storage of nitrate fertilizers in the eastern part of the Mykolaiv region. 

On May 1, 18 fires broke out in the Kharkiv region as a result of Russian shellings. Ground fuel tanks belonging to one of the agricultural firms caught fire in the Zolochiv community. The area of ​​the fire was about 1,200 square meters. Two warehouses with tires and herbicides caught fire when hit by Russian shells in the Kyiv district of Kharkiv.

On May 3, Russian troops launched more than 20 cruise missile strikes causing fires at infrastructure facilities in the Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv and Zakarpattia regions.

Large-scale fires on infrastructure and industrial facilities lead to poisoning of the air with hazardous substances. Pollutants can be carried by winds over long distances.

Pollution caused directly by hostilities

According to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, from 24 February to 3 May 2022, 90,432 explosive devices, 1,964 aircraft bombs, and 583.4 kg of explosives were neutralized in Ukraine. An area of ​​16,370 hectares was surveyed for explosives. Destroyed military equipment and ammunition, as well as exploded missiles and air bombs, pollute the soil and groundwater with chemicals, including heavy metals.

On April 29, Russian troops struck the village of Solovyove in the Ocheretyn community of the Donetsk region with phosphorus shells. The use of white phosphorus shells is prohibited by the 1977 Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Victims of War.

 

Damage to natural reserves and protected ecosystems

On April 28, a large-scale fire broke out in the floodplains of the Dnipro near the Russian-occupied city of Kherson. The Dnipro floodplains are silted, swampy, flooded areas with rich biodiversity. They are protected within the Lower Dnipro National Nature Park.

Due to the military actions of the occupiers, 900 protected areas of Ukraine are in danger today. 1.2 million hectares or about 30% of ​​all protected areas of Ukraine suffer from the effects of war. Thousands of plant species listed in the Red Book of Ukraine and protected by the law are growing in these areas. Fighting also disturbs wild animals. They either die or try to escape from hot spots.

 

Damage to freshwater resources

As a result of hostilities, the water supply system from the Dnipro river to the city of Mykolaiv was damaged. For over three weeks Mykolaiv residents haven't had access to clean water. The water for basic needs of the population is being transported from other regions of the country. 

On April 28, Head of the Luhansk regional military administration Serhiy Haidai said that water supply networks in the Lugansk region had been almost completely destroyed as a result of hostilities, so water supply in Lysychansk could not be restored until the end of hostilities. Rubizhne, Popasna, Severodonetsk (almost all cities of the Lugansk region in the territory controlled by Ukraine) also lack water supply.

Because of the destruction caused by the war 1.4 mln people in Ukraine have no access to safe water, and 4.6 mln people have only limited access.

 

Black and Azov Seas

Russian troops are attacking infrastructure along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas and anchored ships, polluting water and spreading toxins into the sea. In particular, on May 2, the Russian occupiers for the third time fired missiles at the bridge across the Dnister estuary in Zatoka (Odesa region).

According to the data provided by the staff of the Tuzla Estuaries National Nature Park, dolphins are dying because of Russian warships’ activities off the coast of the Odessa region. Military sonars have a negative impact on animals’ health. Russian warships use the sonar systems producing sounds at 200 decibels and even louder. If dolphins are in the radius of such sonars, it damages their hearing and leads to disorientation. Under natural conditions, dolphins use echo signals to determine what lies ahead. Having lost orientation, dolphins in panic can throw themselves out to the coast and die. Blocking of maritime traffic in the Black Sea by the Russian fleet, mining of waters and the seashores prevent scientists from collecting more specific data on the number of affected dolphins.

Previous Reports

Previous reports of the Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine on environmental crimes committed by Russian troops since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine are available following the links:

By branches