Donbas, where the conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists has been going on for over seven years, has to face an ecological disaster. “It is no longer possible to completely restore the territories marked by the war to their original form” – experts regret.
One of the main threats to the environment in the Donbas is the uncontrolled flooding of some mines in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
– These activities result in an increase in the water level, which may lead to soil, surface and groundwater contamination, flooding and subsidence of the ground – said Oleksandra Lukianenko from the organization entitled Right to the West (Right to Protection) during the conference on the ecological future of Donbas.
“This is a very topical topic and if no solutions are found, it will lead to great danger,” Lukianenko alerted. She assessed that the public was not adequately informed in this matter.
Yevheniy Yakovlev from the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, an expert in the field of hydrogeology, noted that the environmental problems of Donbas concern not only the local population: an ecological subgroup dealing with the issue of flooding mines was established in the tripartite contact group for conflict resolution.
– The risk of mine sinking is significant and there is a risk that it will affect fauna, flora and humans – emphasized the scientist. He announced that experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for nuclear safety may also be involved in projects concerning the ecological situation in Donbas.
The ecological problems in Donbas are related not only to the fact that water is not pumped out from mines. The military actions that have been taking place since 2014 have destroyed the biodiversity of the territory – unique species of animals and plants, and damaged the landscape – emphasizes the state ecological inspection of Ukraine, quoted by the nv.ua portal. – Inadequately disarmed loads, including mines, explode, leading to soil breakdown and fires. The remains of the munitions contain a number of polluting substances, including heavy metals that damage the soil and underground aquifers, the head of the inspection Andriy Malowanyj told the service. Many petroleum products from oils used to service military equipment are released into the environment, which in turn leads to the degradation of land areas.
The nv.ua portal emphasized that even territories that were not directly affected by explosions and missiles indirectly suffer the effects of war. “And eliminating these effects is not easy” – he assessed.
High gas prices and deforestation
Due to military operations in the Donetsk Oblast, there is a temporary moratorium on planned ecological inspections. However, the lack of control results in such unpunished actions as, for example, deforestation. Biologist Maksym Wysoczyn claims that one of the reasons for cutting down trees is the increase in gas prices, therefore “people are trying to burn fuel in the local furnace”. There are also illegal coal mines in the Donetsk region, where people extract the raw materials themselves to save on fuel.
The state ecological inspection draws attention to another problem, which is the lack of access to Ukrainian territories not controlled by Kiev, which makes it impossible to carry out the necessary inspections. The ministry regrets: “Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to completely restore the territories marked by the war to their original form.”
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