Briefing on the environmental damage caused by the Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine (30 June - 6 July 2022)

8 July 2022, 17:37
News

The United Nations warns of the toxic environmental legacy for Ukraine and the region because of Russia’s war of aggression. An initial impact monitoring conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partner organizations points to significant impacts on the environment that could leave a toxic legacy for generations to come.

The Government of Ukraine continues recording numerous crimes of the occupiers against the environment and will seek compensation for the damages caused in international courts. At the same time, the implementation of Ukraine Recovery Plan is already underway.

On July 4, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine Ruslan Strilets presented the environmental component of this Plan at the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC 2022) in Lugano, Switzerland.

The strategic goal of post-war recovery is a clean and safe environment, further implementation of the European Green Course, and recovery of the economy based on the principles of sustainable development. Therefore, Ukraine needs to implement 9 urgent reforms: waste management, environmental control, regulation of industrial pollution, a complex system of environmental monitoring, management of nature protected areas, and others.

"Over 200 experts elaborated the "Environmental safety" section of Ukraine’s Recovery Plan. As a result, we have 76 nature protection projects in the plan. 25.5 billion euros are needed for the implementation of these projects. We are already working on investment attraction. Ukraine recently joined the LIFE program, and we will be able to implement several projects even before we become a member of the European Union," commented Ruslan Strilets.

Nuclear and radiation safety threats

The current situation at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant continues to pose a threat to all of Europe. The Russian occupying forces use repression against the Ukrainian workers of the ZNPP. On July 3, it was reported that Andriy Honcharuk, a diver of the Zaporizhzhya NPP hydraulic workshop, died as a result of Russian torture. The occupiers turned the operating nuclear power plant into their military base. You can learn more from The Wall Street Journal article published on July 5.

According to the Acting Chief State Inspector for Nuclear Safety of Ukraine Oleg Korikov, the supply of spare parts to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant may soon be exhausted. Currently, Ukraine cannot deliver to the station new valves and consumables that are used during plant operations.

On July 1, Energoatom by its efforts restored the lost connection between the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Earlier the IAEA lost the remote connection to its safeguards surveillance systems because the occupiers cut off all Ukrainian mobile operators in Energodar city. As of now, all mandatory monitoring data is being transmitted, and the Agency has confirmed its receipt.

Recent attacks on infrastructure and industry sites

On June 30, Russian shelling destroyed a warehouse of an agricultural enterprise with 40 tons of grain in Zelenodolsk, the Dnipropetrovsk region.

On June 30, the Russian military attacked a woodworking enterprise in the Osnovyansk district of Kharkiv city, severely damaging one of the production buildings.

On July 1, 12 missiles hit the facilities of the port infrastructure and private enterprises producing perfumes and lime in Mykolaiv.

On July 1, Russian invaders shelled Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region. Because of the heavy shelling, the factory of refractory materials for metallurgical uses caught fire. Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire quickly.

On July 2, due to the occupier’s attack, a fire broke out at the "Donbaska 750" electrical substation on the outskirts of the Bakhmut community of the Donetsk region. This is one of the largest electrical substations in Ukraine.

On July 3, a fire broke out at Europe’s largest Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant in the Donetsk region as a result of the shelling by Russian "Grad" MLRS.

On July 3, Russian troops hit the Vuglegirsk thermal power station in the Donetsk region. Due to the attack, tanks with fuel oil caught fire. A large-scale fire lasted more than a day.

 

On July 3, as a result of a Russian artillery attack, a gas station in Orihiv, the Zaporizhzhia region, was destroyed.

On July 5, Slovyansk, the Donetsk region, was massively shelled by the Russian occupiers. As a result of the attack, a fire broke out in the market in an area of ​​1,200 square meters.

On July 5, as a result of a Russian missile attack, a cheese factory in Bashtanka, the Mykolaiv region, suffered significant damage.

On July 6, as a result of Russian shelling, a fire broke out at a gas station in Chuguiv, the Kharkiv region.

During the hostilities near Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, significant damage was caused to the Severodonetsk Thermal Power Plant, the Donsoda plant, and the Lysychansk Oil Refinery. The "Azot" plant, one of Europe's largest producers of ammonia and mineral fertilizers, was destroyed by 70%.

 

Large-scale fires at infrastructure and industrial facilities lead to air poisoning by particularly dangerous substances. Pollutants can be carried by winds over long distances.

The State Ecological Inspectorate specialists calculated the damage to the environment caused by the Russian attacks on the oil depot in the village of Kalynivka, the Fastiv district, the Kyiv region, in March 2022. Due to the attack, a fire at the oil depot lasted for 5 days. As a result of the burning of 5.8 thousand tons of fuel, 20 thousand tons of pollutants were released into the air of the Kyiv region, including 19,935 tons of carbon dioxide, 36 tons of carbon monoxide, and 8 tons of nitrogen dioxide, 3 tons of zinc oxide. Oil products polluted 25,500 square meters of soil. The pollution level exceeded the norm by 16 times. The total amount of damage to the environment is estimated to be over UAH 508 million.

SEI calculated that the amount of damage to the environment as a result of a missile attack at the Darnytskyi Car Repair Plant in Kyiv amounts to UAH 221 million. The total area of ​​the soil polluted as a result of the plant’s destruction is 4,000 square meters.

According to the Ministry of Energy, Russian invaders destroyed or occupied 90% of wind power plants in Ukraine. In addition, 30% of solar plants and 30.1% of cogeneration plants were destroyed or captured.

Pollution caused directly by hostilities

According to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service (SES), from 24 February to 6 July 2022, 154,045 explosive devices, including 2,024 aircraft bombs, were neutralized in Ukraine. An area of 63 644 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.

 

Damage to natural reserves and protected ecosystems

On July 3, the NASA remote sensing data highlighted an abnormally high number of fires along the front line in the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions. Russian troops launched large-scale artillery strikes. Munitions explosions and the summer heat were catalysts for large fires in fields and forests.

In particular, on July 2, as a result of Russian shelling, forest plantations on an area of ​​1 hectare caught fire in the forest of Halytsynivska community of the Mykolaiv region. Firefighters extinguished the fire.

At least 20 species of endemic rare plants in Ukraine are under threat due to the war. Military actions lead to the powerful action of several factors that have a detrimental effect on vegetation, fungi, and lichens: the destructive effect of explosions, the passage of military equipment, and the construction of fortifications; hostilities cause fires that are hard to extinguish because of military actions; chemical pollution of soils with sulfur, which destroys the seeds and roots of grasses with the formed sulfuric acid when in contact with water. Active hostilities directly destroy vegetation and indirectly destroy natural habitats. For endemic and rare species, such actions could lead to fatal consequences.

 

Damage to freshwater resources

Russian troops are deliberately striking at the infrastructure for water intake, purification, and supply, as well as sewage treatment facilities.

On July 5, Russian troops launched a missile attack on the Khmelnytskyi region. The strike targeted a water tower supplying the local community with water.

Due to Russian aggression, water supply and sewerage facilities in the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, and Mykolaiv regions have been significantly damaged.

According to Petro Andryushchenko, a counselor to the mayor of Mariupol, only 3% of the city's residents have access to water in the temporarily occupied Mariupol. Residents of Mariupol are forced to travel kilometers and stand in long queues at water collection points.

The Russians are stealing water from the North Crimean Canal on a large scale. Water intake reaches 50 cubic meters per second, and losses due to its arbitrary use amount to more than UAH 32 million per day, according to approximate estimations. Accordingly, in 125 days since the full-scale invasion began Russians stole water worth approximately UAH 4 billion.

Black and Azov Seas

Russian troops are attacking infrastructure along the Black and Azov Seas and ships at anchor, polluting water and spreading toxins into the sea.

In particular, on July 1, the Russians launched missile strikes at tourist infrastructure facilities in the Odesa region. On the evening of July 1, the Russian aviation bombarded Zmiiny Island with phosphorus bombs. At least one bomb fell directly into the Black Sea.

Russian troops have placed many mines in the waters of the Black Sea, threatening shipping, people, and marine animals. On July 2, a man was killed by an explosive device while swimming on one of the beaches in the Odesa region. On July 3, a sea mine was carried by the current from the Black Sea to the Dnister estuary. The mine was discovered in time. It was in a coastal area with difficult access, but specialists of the Ukrainian Navy demolition team managed to neutralize the mine. According to the Odesa regional administration of the State Emergency Service, due to a large number of explosive objects in the water area, the beaches in Odesa will not be opened to the public.

 

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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