Briefing on the environmental damage caused by the Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine (9-15 June 2022)

17 June 2022, 17:26
News

As of the 112th day since the beginning of the large-scale Russian invasion, the Ukrainian government continues to record the occupiers' numerous crimes against the environment.

It is important for the government to inform Ukrainians timely about environmental threats, provide instructions on how to protect against these threats, and an opportunity to participate in reporting the facts of ecocide.

59% of Ukrainians consider that they are aware of the threats to the environment caused by war. These are the results of the All-Ukrainian survey "Opinions and views of Ukrainians on the environmental consequences of the war", conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in May 2022. The survey was commissioned by the EU-funded APENA2 project.

"The vast majority of Ukrainians are worried about the environmental consequences of the war. And it's not about the aesthetics of beautiful landscapes destroyed by occupiers. This is a matter of safety and health, a matter of a common future," - said Ruslan Strilets, Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine.

"We stand with Ukraine, we support Ukrainians in these difficult times. This survey is important for understanding awareness of environmental threats. The European Union pays a lot of attention to communications and helps to develop this component in the context of environmental protection in Ukraine," - said Chloé Allio, Head of Section Operations, Economic Cooperation, Energy, Infrastructure and Environment, Delegation of the EU to Ukraine.

Nuclear and radiation safety threats

The Zaporizhzhya NPP continues to operate under occupation. On June 10, communication between the ZNPP servers for nuclear material control and the IAEA was restored. The connection was lost on May 30 when the Russian occupiers cut off the telecom network in Energodar. All data for this period was stored on secure ZNPP servers and transferred to the IAEA immediately after the connection was restored. Currently, the radiation levels near ZNPP are normal. The nuclear safety at the plant is still under threat as the Russian army uses its territory as a military base

Restoration works after the devastating Russian occupation are still underway in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. According to the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management, the Automated Radiation Monitoring System (ASRM) with 39 gamma radiation dose rate sensors has been restored. This part of the system works in an automatic mode and transmits data every hour. The ASRM also includes 14 points for monitoring radioactive aerosols in the under-the-surface layer of air. In the Exclusion Zone, the areas where fires took place are being constantly monitored to prevent new fires.

Recent attacks on infrastructure and industry sites

On June 10, the Russian shelling damaged low and medium-pressure gas distribution pipelines in the town of Dergachi, the Kharkiv region.

On June 11, a missile strike in Chortkiv (the Ternopil region) led to a gas leak and a fire.

On June 12, Russian troops shelled Ukraine's most powerful Vuglegirska thermal power plant near Svitlodarsk, the Donetsk region. A large-scale fire broke out, and an administrative building of the TPP was destroyed.

On June 13, Russian missile strikes targeted the city of Pryluky, the Chernihiv region. As a result, ammunition detonated, and an evacuation was announced in nearby settlements. Eventually, the fire was eliminated.

 

On June 14, the wreckage of a Russian missile intercepted by the air defense forces damaged a brick factory in Zolochiv, the Lviv region.

On June 15, Russian troops launched a missile attack at a construction materials factory in the Novomoskovsk district of the Dnipropetrovsk region. A fire broke out, and the factory’s building was destroyed.

During the week numerous shellings were recorded at the Azot plant (the third-largest producer of ammonia in Ukraine) and the Skloplastyk plant (a leading Ukrainian producer of glass materials and plastics) in Severodonetsk, the Luhansk region. According to Group DF, an owner of the Azot plant, fertilizers, and dangerous chemicals were transferred from the plant in advance. On June 10, the transport department building of the Azot plant was shelled. The fuel caught fire, which lasted more than a day.

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.

Specialists of the State Ecological Inspectorate calculated the damage caused by environmental pollution as a result of attacks by Russian troops on the territory of the Vilkhivska community in the Kharkiv region. The Russian attacks caused littering with plastic, wood, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, glass, and paper on the land plot with an area of ​​46,992 sq. m. The total amount of damage is estimated at over UAH 2.7 billion.

In the Kharkiv region, Russian invaders destroyed an agricultural enterprise specializing in the cultivation of cereals and legumes. As a result of this attack, the environmental damage is estimated at UAH 30.9 million.

Pollution caused directly by hostilities

According to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service (SES), from 24 February to 15 June 2022, 136,606 explosive devices, including 1 988 aircraft bombs, were neutralized in Ukraine. An area of 40,905 hectares was surveyed for explosives.

An international human rights organisation Amnesty International has recorded evidence that Russian troops have repeatedly shelled residential areas with 9n210/9n235 cluster munitions and anti-personnel fragmentation mines. Their use against civilians is a war crime. This is stated in a new report by Amnesty International, published on June 13.

Destroyed military equipment and ammunition, as well as exploded missiles and air bombs, pollute the soil and groundwater with chemicals, including heavy metals.

Damage to natural reserves and protected ecosystems

Ukraine's biodiversity becomes a victim of war. After the Russian shelling of the Odesa region, residents of one of the villages found a hiding place of a forest cat - a rare wild species of the feline family, of which only about 300 live in Ukraine. An adult female died as a result of the shelling, and 3 kittens were rescued. Kittens of the protected species were handed over for rehabilitation to veterinarians in Odesa.

According to the State Agency of Forest Resources of Ukraine, the situation with forest fires remains difficult. The area of ​​fires has increased by 99 times compared to the same period in 2021. The fires have already affected 6,460.4 thousand hectares. The average area of ​​fire increased by 31 times. The most difficult situation is in the Kherson region – 4,484.6 thousand hectares were affected by fires. In the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, due to continuous hostilities fires are burning in 2-3 rounds at the sites of forest fires that happened in 2020.

On June 9, due to the Russian shelling near the village of Andriyivka, the Izium district, the Kharkiv region, 2.5 hectares of pine forest caught fire. Foresters together with the local fire brigade extinguished the fire. On June 12, as a result of enemy shelling, a fire broke out in the coniferous forest in the Vysokobirsky forestry of the Izium district of the Kharkiv region. The fire’s area was ​​about 4 hectares.

Damage to freshwater resources

Due to the occupation by Russian invaders, the Zaporizhzhia Iron Ore Plant froze its operations. The plant’s employees continue working at the site trying to prevent an environmental catastrophe. If water pumping is stopped, the iron ore mine will be flooded and iron will pollute the aquifers of the whole region. As a result, water from these aquifers will become not usable.

According to the State Emergency Service, the search for explosive devices is underway in rivers and coastal areas in the Mykolaiv region. On June 14, the SES divers checked 10 000 sq. m. of the river bottom and found 3 cassette elements from multiple rocket launchers near the Namyv residential district of Mykolaiv. Explosive objects can be found anywhere in the water reservoir.

Black and Azov Seas

Maritime traffic from all Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea remains blocked due to the threat of attacks by the Russian navy, ship capture, or detonation of sea mines. On June 11, a 50-year-old man died as a result of an explosion of a Russian naval mine, which was torn from the anchor and carried by the current to the seashore of the Odessa region.

According to the Tuzla Estuaries National Nature Park employees, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the protected area has become a high-risk zone. Fragments of Russian missiles and funnels caused by explosions have been repeatedly recorded on the territory of the national park.

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:

 

 

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