Briefing on the environmental damage caused by the Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine (August 11-17, 2022) | Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine

by UKCHP_Admin

Russia continues its blackmail actions at the Zaporizhzhia NPP and nearby. By attacking Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the occupiers are trying to hold the whole world hostage, using the power plant as a nuclear weapon.

On August 15, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine appealed to the UN, the EU, the European Council, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the IAEA Members States to condemn the act of nuclear terrorism committed by the aggressor state at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Hostilities destroy the environment, polluting it for many years ahead. The full-scale war in Ukraine is a tragedy on a global scale. The environment has no boundaries. Poisonous waters will enter European rivers and the world’s oceans, and polluted air can be carried away by winds to any point on the globe.

A team of Ukrainian journalists from the “Eastern Option” media presented the documentary “Hidden Threat” about the consequences of war for the environment (in Ukrainian with English subtitles). The film features the comments of leading experts, in particular, the Deputy Ministers of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine Oleksandr Krasnolutskyi and Yevgeniy Fedorenko.

Despite the war, Ukraine continues to implement European integration reforms in the environmental protection field. On August 16, the Ukrainian parliament supported in the first reading draft law No. 5159 “On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Regarding the Introduction of Liability for Violation of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Procedure”. This draft law will help to lay the ground for an environmentally balanced recovery of Ukraine from the consequences of the war.

“The post-war reconstruction of Ukraine will take place according to the European standards. Already today, we are taking maximum steps by implementing the EU directives into our legislation. A strategic environmental assessment is one of the key tools for such a recovery of our country. Today more than ever it is important not only to improve the strategic environmental assessment procedure and make it transparent, but also to establish responsibility for non-compliance”, – commented Ruslan Strilets,the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine.

Nuclear and radiation safety threats

Starting from the previous week, periodic shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by Russian troops using MLRS caused a serious risk to the plant’s safe operation.

As a result of the attack on the Zaporizhzhia NPP, the emergency protection of one of the power units was activated, and one of the three operating power units was disconnected. Three radiation monitoring sensors were damaged near the dry spent fuel storage facility of the ZNPP. There are still risks of hydrogen leakage and emission of radioactive substances, while the risk of the fire hazard is also high.

On August 11, the Russian occupiers again shelled the ZNPP’s territory. As a result, they damaged the household sewage pumping station. Extensive smoke was recorded nearby. On the same day, the fire station came under fire. It is located beyond the ZNPP’s territory and is supposed to be used for fire protection and extinguishment of flames in the event of an emergency at the plant.

On August 13, the 750 kV open switchgear (VRP-750) was also damaged due to Russian shelling. On August 14, an employee of the Zaporizhzhya NPP Maksym Marko died as a result of Russian shelling.

According to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, these shellings indicate that Russia rejects the security demands of the European Union and 15 other countries calling on the Russian Federation to withdraw its military forces from the plant.

Any radiation accident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP may affect many countries. Everything will depend solely on the direction and strength of the wind.

“We need to move on from discussions and calls to new tough sanctions against Russia, against Rosatom and the entire nuclear industry of the terrorist state. All Russian forces must immediately withdraw from the territory of the power plant and neighbouring areas — no conditions attached,” – commented Volodymyr Zelenskyi.

The Ukrainian staff of the power plant continues to work. They make every effort to ensure nuclear and radiation safety, as well as to eliminate the consequences of Russian shellings. More details on the circumstances under which the ZNPP employees are working are available in the article published by Reuters on August 17.

Recent attacks on infrastructure and industry sites

On August 11, the Russian troops:

  • shelled a workshop in the village of Prydniprovske, the Dnipropetrovsk region, a fire broke out as a result of the attack;
  • shelled a mill in the village of Velykomykhailivka, the Synelnykivskyi district, the Dnipropetrovsk region. Due to the fire, local farmers lost 120 tons of grain.

On August 12, the occupiers:

  • shelled the city of Marganets in the Dnipropetrovsk region with “Grad” MRLS and artillery, damaging a factory and a printing house;
  • shelled the port infrastructure of Mykolaiv with the “Uragan” MRLS;
  • launched rocket attacks at infrastructure facilities in the city of Zaporizhzhia. As a result, the territory of two enterprises in the Shevchenkivskyi district was damaged.

On August 13, the Russian military:

  • shelled the city of Nikopol, damaging industrial facilities and a gas pipeline;
  • carried out rocket and artillery attacks in the Donetsk region, damaging 101 buildings, in particular, 2 factories;
  • destroyed agricultural machinery and the premises of a local agricultural company in the village of Ternuvate, the Zaporizhzhia region;
  • hit industrial facilities in the city of Mykolaiv with “Smerch” MRLS.

On August 14, Russian troops shelled Nikopol, the Dnipropetrovsk region, damaging industrial buildings and gas pipelines.

On August 15:

  • due to the shelling of Nikopol, warehouses, workshops, and administrative premises of an industrial enterprise were damaged;
  • Russian occupying forces shelled 15 settlements in the Donetsk region damaging a thermal power plant and a water filter station;
  • as a result of rocket attacks on the Merefa community of the Kharkiv region, an abandoned enterprise was damaged.

On the night of August 16, Russian troops carried out one of the most massive shellings of Kharkiv in recent times. Strikes were recorded in the Shevchenkivskyi, Kyivskyi, Saltivskyi, Industrialnyi, and Kholodnohirskyi districts of the city. As a result of shelling, the tram depot was damaged. A fire on an area of ​​about 100 square meters broke out in the garage cooperative.

On August 17, the Russian troops:

  • launched rockets at Zatoka in the Odesa region. As a result of the attack, a large-scale fire broke out on a total area of ​​more than 600 square meters.
  • attacked Mykolaiv with S-300 missiles, damaging the university building and one of the city’s industrial enterprises.

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

According to The Washington Post, Russia occupied oil, gas, and gold deposits in Ukraine with reserves worth over USD 12 trillion.

The article says that after the full-scale invasion started, the Russian Federation steadily expanded the area of ​​captured deposits. There are 41 deposits of coal, 27 – of natural gas, 14 – of propane, 9 – of oil; 6 – of iron ore, 2 – of titanium ore, 2 – of zirconium ore, 1 – of strontium, 1 – of lithium, 1 – of uranium, 1 – of gold, as well as a limestone quarry occupied. Currently, the Russian Federation controls 63% of Ukraine’s coal deposits, 11% of its oil deposits, 20% of its natural gas deposits, 42% of its metals, and 33% of its deposits of rare earth and other critical minerals including lithium.



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