Donbas is one of the world’s largest coal mining technologically saturated regions, where the state of the environment has always caused serious concern among experts. Military aggression, economic crisis and ignoring of ecological risks by the “authorities” of the occupied territories in the near future can lead to catastrophic consequences.
The Ukrainian side for more than four years has no access to the territory seized by the militants, which does not allow to fully assess the damage done to the environment and take appropriate measures to respond to existing threats.
By the beginning of the military conflict, there were 4240 potentially dangerous objects (PDO) in Donbas, including 227 mines, 174 hydraulic facilities, 784 gas stations, 15 quarries, 13 railway stations, 128 bridges and overpasses, 18 main pipelines, 4 oil fields. 2160 objects were explosive, 24 - radiation, 1320 - fire, 176 - hydrodynamic, 34 - biologically and 334 chemically hazardous. Today, experts identified 176 PDOs, of which 99 are located on an uncontrolled territory.
Statistics of accidents and violations of the operating mode at industrial enterprises during the military conflict in Donbas in 2014-2017
Among the many industrial enterprises that were damaged as a result of the combat, the following production proved to be the most environmentally dangerous: Yasinovsky, Avdeyevsky and Enakievo coke plants, Enakievo, Makeyevka and Donetsk metallurgical plants, Alchevsk metallurgical plant, Lisichansk oil refinery, Donetsk state chemical plant, Slavic , Luhansk, Uglegorskaya and Mironovskaya thermal power plants, chemical enterprises - the Severodonetsk plant ‘Azot’ and Gorlovsky ‘Stirol’. (https://www.osce.org/uk/project-coordinator-in-ukraine/362581?download=true)
The majority of industrial enterprises suffered during the period of active hostilities in 2014-2015. In 2016-2017, according to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the intensity of military operations has significantly decreased. During this period, the damage was caused to the Avdeevka Coke Plant, the Toretsky Phenolic Plant, the Donetsk State Chemical Plant, the Stakhanov Ferroalloy Plant and other enterprises located near the contact line. (https://www.osce.org/uk/project-coordinator-in-ukraine/362581?download=true)
Pollution of surface and groundwater in the Donbas region
The data of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue on the quality of groundwater confirmed the high level of pollution, but the lack of comparison of the results of measurements with background or historical values does not allow us to draw conclusions about the direct influence of the military conflict.
However, a comparison of the data of the Seversko-Donetsk IWRM on the content of metals in the bottom sediments of the Karlovsky and Kleban-Bitsky reservoirs with the situation before the outbreak of the conflict (in 2008) showed an increased (in 5 times) content of non-radioactive strontium, as well as a significant increase in barium concentration (in 13-15 thousand times). All these substances are used in industry, at the same time they are also known as standard components of modern ammunition.
The results of a study of the possible impact of the conflict in eastern Ukraine on the quality of surface waters and the dynamics of their changes also did not allow to clearly establish the consequences of such an impact.
Elevated concentrations of biogenic elements (mineral forms of nitrogen and phosphorus) in water as Seversky DonetsRiver, and other rivers that were explored. A significant increase in the nitrogen concentration in the Kleban-Bik River, beginning in 2015, may be a consequence of the pollution of the river by sewage.
The increased content of nitric nitrogen in comparison with the Seversky Donets River was noted in the water of the Kazeny Torec and Krivoi Torec rivers: its content fluctuated around 20 mg / dm3 since 2013, and this can also indicate the contamination of water with nitrogen compounds from sewage.
“Intercept” local emergency pollution is extremely difficult. When neutralizing the source of contamination (restoration of destroyed treatment facilities, etc.), and also due to the ability of natural waters to self-clean, the concentration of hydrochemical indicators will subsequently return to emergency levels. To identify short-term actions, which include fighting, more mobile means of operational monitoring are needed.
Damage to water pipes and sewage treatment plants.
Since the beginning of the armed conflict, the operation of water supply and water purification and sanitation facilities has been repeatedly disrupted and suspended, creating conditions for spontaneous accidental pollution. Cases of damage to communal sewage and water networks were recorded in most settlements along the line of contact.
In early January 2017, for damages in the Gorlovka-Toretskoye waterworks, water floods the Artyom and Yuzhnoye mines as a result of the shelling. Methane gas rises to the surface, which enters the cellars of residential and industrial buildings, which can lead to explosions and poisoning of people. Every day about 12 thousand m3of water flows from the water pipeline. Because of this, almost 35 thousand inhabitants of the city receive water only two hours a day.
Especially threatening situation is in the summer, when the probability of an epidemic of infectious diseases increases.
According to available data, during the period 2014-2017, the violation of the work was also recorded at the most important objects of the water supply system of the region - the Seversky Donets-Donbass, Mariupol, Enakievo, Gorlovka, Slavyanska, Western filter stations, the South Donbass, the Second Donetsk, Aidarskaya, Molodogvardeyska, Kondrashevsky water pipes and other objects.
11June 2015,as a result of the powerful shelling of Gorlovka the only working pipeline Seversky Donets – Donbasswas damaged. The missiles hit the territory of Gorlovka filtering station №2, as a result of which the station was completely de-energized - the transmission line and the switchgear were damaged. Without water, the towns of Gorlovka and Dzerzhinsk remained.
Fires were recorded at the water supply facilities where chlorine was stored - the Donetsk filtering station and the Verkhnokalmysky filter station.
11August 2016, Dokuchaevske Department of Water and Sewerage because of shelling can not resume work, which can lead to an outbreak of infectious diseases and soil pollution. The territory of the sewage treatment plants of enterprises is located close to the demarcation line. Five settlements had no water because of the lack of permission to repair from the occupants.
In 2016, the wastewater from the Bahmut Agrarian Union overflowed due to the inability of their timely maintenance.
Violationofminetermsofexploitation and their flooding
Before the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine, 150 coal mines were exploited or worked in a drainage regime.
In the Donetsk region, as a result of the conflict, interruptions in the operation of enterprises or pumping equipment were recorded in the Komsomolets Donbassa, Lidiivka, Vuglegirska, Chervonyi Profintern, Bulavinskaya, Olkhovatska, Trudovskaya, Chelyuskintsev and other
In Luhansk oblast, the Sukhodolskaya-Vostochnaya, Privolnyanska, Nikanor-Nova, Kyivska, Dovzhanska-Capitalna, Centrospilka, Kharkivska, Chervonyi Partizan, Samsonivska-Zakhidna, Pershotravneva, Proletarska, Bilorechenska, Frunze, Vakhrusheva, Cosmonavtiv, Dzerzhinskyi, Sverdlov and others like that.
The cases of infrastructure damage and the disconnection of coal-mining enterprises from electricity were repeatedly recorded, which led to the shutdown of mine water drainage systems, and in some cases to full flooding of the mines.
Today, the distillery does not work practically throughout the territory from the city of Gorlovka to the city of Enakievo, in the district of Pervomaysk, partially - in the cities of Donetsk, Makeyevka, Shahtorsk, Toretsk.
36 mines in the region are being flooded or already completely flooded and are not subject to further exploitation. Flooding of mines and adjoining territories is one of the main causes of potential pollution of underground and surface water by iron, chlorides, sulfates, other mineral salts and heavy metals.
Sedimentation of soils
The inevitable consequence of large-scale flooding of mines is the flooding of surrounding areas and the sinking of the surface of the land decommissioning buildings, structures and communications, including underground gas pipelines, sewage and water supply systems and elements of the water supply system of Donbas.
Within the city of Donetsk, the area of flooded land is about 31% (5180 hectares) of the total area of the city, in Makiyivka 42% (1690 hectares).
According to satellite monitoring, the territory of Donetsk has already sownby 20-25 cm.
Significant sedimentation of soil is recorded:
not far from the mines in the Kyiv region (Donetsk) - 53 cm;
in Kalininsky district (Donetsk) - 69 cm;
in Petrovsky district (Donetsk) - up to 92 cm;
near the Shcheglovskaya mine (Makiyivka) - 52 cm;
Mining area (Makiyivka) - 63 cm,
and in other places.
Chemical contamination of the territory of combat actions
Detailed field surveys of chemical pollution in the zone of conflict in the East of Ukraine were carried out by three organizations: "Ecology. Right. Human (ERH) in 2014 (Soil, Surface Water), Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) in 2016 (groundwaters, soils), Siversky-Donetsk water resources management (SDWRM) within the framework of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator's study in Ukraine (soils, bottom sediments).
According to the ERH data, the content of heavy metals in soil samples taken at combat sites (mostly in funnel for a short time after the cessation of hostilities) in most cases exceeded the background value by 1.2-12 times.
According to CHD, of the seven studiedmetals, only the content of cadmium (in 4.4 times) and lead (an average of 1.2 times) exceededregionalvalues.
On the basis of the results of analysis, performed by the Laboratory of the Siverskyi-Donetsk WRM in 2017, averaged as for 10 sites, which were affected by combatactions,the values of the indicators of chemical pollution in general were equal to the background value from adjacent territories with similar factors of influence, with the exception of the impact of hostilities.
Systematicexcess in 1,1-1,3 times was observed in mercury, vanadium, cadmium, nonradioactive strontium and gamma-radiation.
The typical maximum excess for some indicators was 1.2-2 times from the background, and only in some cases reached 7-17 times for samples taken in Slavyansk. In some cases, background values were exceeded by more than 100 times.
In the occupied territories of Donbas there are dangerous objects that can cause the spread of radiation in the region.
In particular, in the case of violations of the current regime of drainage, non-exploited mines used to store hazardous and radioactive wastebecome hazardous, including "Olexandr-Zahid", "Vuglegirskaya", Kalinin mine and "Yunyi Communar".
On 16June 2016, an explosion broke out in the Donetsk state plant of chemical products, near which the storage of radiation substancesis located. This cemetery was built in 1958 and has been staying in an emergency state for many years.
In caseof its depressurization, there is a threat of radioactive contamination of the environment and the KarlivWater Reserve, which supplies water to Donetsk.
Radiation state of surface waters.
Radiological studies were conducted in 18 sections, including:
in the basin of the Siverskyi Donets - in 11 sections (4 along the route; 7 divisions in the sub-basins of the river: Kazennyi Torets, Bakhmutka, Krivoy Torets and Kleban-Bykske water storage);
in the rivers of Azov basin in 3 sections;
in the Samara river basin (Dnipro river basin) - in 4 sections.
In 2016, the average annual content of artificial strontium-90 and cesium-137 radionuclides in the rivers was:
in the basin of the river Seversky Donets it fluctuated: by strontium-90 from 0,021 to 0,029 Bq / dm3 and by cesium-137 from 0,0305 to 0,0425 Bq/dm3, which is significantly lower than the established standards ‘Permissible levels of radionuclide content 137Cs and 90Sr in food and drinking water’(2.0 Bq/dm3);
in the basin of the Kalmius River fluctuated: by strontium-90 from 0.026 to 0.0275 Bq / dm3 and by cesium-137 from 0.0355 to 0.0363 Bq/dm3;
in the basin of the Samara River fluctuated: by strontium-90 from 0.0235 to 0.027 Bq / dm3 and by cesium-37 from 0.032 to 0.0395 Bq/dm3.
Pollution of agricultural lands, the preservation of the natural reserve and the destruction of the forest area.
The greatest risks for forest plantations in the east of Ukraine are forest fires that arise from explosions of ammunition or deliberate arson associated with the tactics of warfare. As a result of fires caused by military actions, the plantations along the collision line suffered the most.
According to the representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk regional forestry and hunting departments, fire statistics are now only available in safe remote areas, and therefore the only safe way to estimate the number of fires in the zone of a military conflict is the analysis of satellite data.
In general, in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in 2014, MODIS recorded 12,518 plant fires, including 4,867 fires in the area of combat actions.
Pollution of atmospheric air
Examples of indirect effects of combat actions include the changes in the quality of atmospheric air in the vicinity of the Luhansk thermal power plant (TPP). The estimation of air pollution data in 2014, obtained from two automated control posts located in the city of Shchastya of the Luhansk region, did not show a significant increase in concentrations of pollutants in the air of the city during the period of active combat operations.
On the other hand, according to DTEK's energy holding, after the bridge's blast in Nova Kondrashivka, coal supply at the TPP was stopped, and shortly thereafter, due to damage to the transmission lines, the Lugansk TPP was isolated from the grid of Ukraine.
As a result, the power plant, which provides electricity to more than 90% of consumers in the Luhansk region, was forced to independently adjust the frequency of the grid, using available high-sulfur and high-salt coal, which led to a sharp deterioration in the quality of atmospheric air.
Consequences of hostilities:
- flooding of mine waters on the surface, penetration into groundwater;
- destruction of treatment facilities;
- chemical and radiation pollution of water resources;
- Pollution of atmospheric air and soil;
- ruptures of shells and spraying of chemicals;
- destruction of places of storage of hazardous chemicals, waste, their ignition;
- destruction of landscapes, vegetation;
- destruction of significant areas of forests;
- initiation of large-scale fires.
Water and War
Today the pollution of water in the east of Ukraine can not be ignored by the public. The destruction of infrastructure related to water supply and sanitation, chemical pollution, power outages of facilities that discharge wastewater, today pose a threat not only to water resources, but to ecosystems in general.
At the beginning of this year in Lugansk region, there were 525 decentralized water supply facilities, and in Donetsk - 1101, but less than half of these facilities for today remain outside the surveillance of the state epidemiological service because of military operations.
The main polluters of water bodies were steel industry enterprises (metallurgical plants of Mariupol, Enakievo, Makeyevka, Avdeevka), coal industry and energy. In a number of cities, purification facilities are morally and physically obsolete. Water resources of Donetsk and Lugansk regions are characterized by a high concentration of salts. The reason for this is the dumping of highly saline mine waters into water bodies, in which over 1 million tons of various salts fall within a year. The most polluted, as the observations of the Donetsk Regional Center for Hydrometeorology show, are the following rivers: Kalmius, Krynka, Bahmut, Kalchik. As a result of the military actions, the water canal of Lugansk is on the threshold of anthropogenic and sanitary disaster.
The first ascent of the canal Seversky Donets-Donbass was put under fire. Donetsk switched to an hourly supply of water, since military actions in the Slavic region made it more difficult to repair a damaged water pump station and water pipes.
As a result of the fighting, the sewage treatment plant in Yenakiyevo worked on a temporary power supply schedule, as the main power line was damaged. Due to shelling in Slavyansk, the filtering station and sewage treatment plants, 19 sewage and 3 water pumping stations, nearly 20 km of sewage and 36 km of water supply networks were affected. The Donetsk filter station was de-energized.
Scale and possible consequences of mine flooding.
According to experts, obtained as part of the study of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, today there are more than 35 mines on both sides of the contact line in the flooding process (47 posallans).
The state of shchacht in the east of Ukraine.
Mines in operation
In the drainage regime
In the process of flooding
In the liquidation phase
* 47. Estimates obtained by the method of expert express assessment, in italics, are approximate figures.
An excess of strontium at the site of the discontinuities of shells in the village was revealed. Zakotnoe, whose concentration is 150 mg/kg, at the site of the formation of a funnel with an area of 12 m2. In the same soil sample, the excess in sulphates reaches more than 4 times in comparison with the background concentration, in cadmium - by 9 times
EPL study of mobile forms of heavy metals in the ground. mg/kg
The reason for the increase in fires in the ATO zone is a confluence of factors:
- dry season, which is traditionally accompanied in the region by an increase in the amount of dry vegetation fires;
- the impossibility of extinguishing fires (unloaded fire equipment, forests and steppes are mined, and constant shelling continues);
- a large number of ignitions from explosions;
- as well as deliberate arson for tactical purposes.
During ATO in the east of Ukraine there were at least 3000 fires: 15 times more than in 2013
In general, in Donetsk and Lugansk, 305 objects of the natural reserve fund were created. More than half of such facilities - in the Lugansk region, about a third - in the Donetsk region - now located or stayed in the combat zone of the ATO. In particular, these are the nature reserves in the region - Luhansky and Ukrainian Steppe, and all national natural parks - the Svyati Horyand Meotida.
Military operations in the east of Ukraine led to the destruction of integral natural landscapes. Pollution of water, soil, atmospheric air, the destruction of bioresources are tremendous and the rehabilitation of these objects will continue for a considerable period. The lack of full control over the entire territory, the actual lack of control bodies and constant shelling do not allow an objective assessment of the damage caused to the natural environment during the period of hostilities. With each next day of the war, the scale of the environmental consequences increases, and their prevention or elimination becomes more complicated.
An important factor in the damage to protected areas is shelling and explosions of shells, which cause significant harm to the landscape, destroy vegetation and fauna.
Damage of the territories by shelling was found in the national natural park SvyatiHory, branches of the Ukrainian steppe Kalmius and Kreydyana flora, regional landscape parks Donetsk Kriaghgh and the Slavyansky Resort, the Lugansk, Pristenskoye and Kreidyanoye,Belogorovsky and Perevalsky reserves.
During the construction of blanks, trenches and covered trenches in the National Svyati Hory, a large number of forests was cut down.