Ecosystem collapse in eastern Ukraine

Heavy artillery fire has started over 3000 forest fires in eastern Ukraine. But the biggest threat comes from flooded mines, according to Kyiv Post.

Seversky Donets River, Ukraine and Russian border in the Donbass Region. Source: Google Earth
It is not only humans that suffer in the ruins of a war-torn eastern Ukraine, entire ecosystems are about to collapse. The massive artillery fire that started this summer have burned down forests and poisoned the air.

Over 3000 forest fires have devastated the Donbass region. Two large nature reserves and 33 parks have been destroyed. More than 17% of the area has burned down, according to the environmental organisation Environmental People Law (EPL).

The state of environment in eastern Ukraine constantly deteriorates. Water and soil pollution, degradation of natural reserves, destruction of forests and steppe by fires, transformation of landscapes, mines flooding became everyday reality” - Alla Voytsikhovska, spokesperson EPL 

The air is full of harmful substances from burnt-out ammunition, with high levels of sulphur-, nitrogen- and carbon dioxide, that can cause irritation and burning in eyes and airways as well as weaken the body’s immune system. The consequences of the devastation will be more fatal to humans than to nature itself. 

But the largest environmental threat comes from flooded mines. Around 100 mines located within separatist territory have been abandoned due to the war and are now contaminating groundwater and rivers. This could poison the Siverskij Donets river which is the regions largest drinking water source and that flows out in the Don and Azovska sea. The TV-station reports that there are rising levels of radioactive mining water in the proximity of the Yunkom mine where the Soviet Union did nuclear tests in 1979. In the mine Oleksandr-Zakhid there is a layer with over 50 tonnes chlorinated hydrocarbons which have mixed with other toxic substances and now that the pumping of water has stopped risks rising up to ground level, creating a poisonous cloud. 

In order to start restoration of pre-war state of environment the scale of economic damage has to be assessed. But a full assessment of environmental damage and restoration costs is only possible after military actions in eastern Ukraine terminates. 


Out of the ashes into the fire

0 kommentarer: