Preliminary UCN’s conclusions of the consequences of the Kakhovska HPP disaster

On June 6, the russians carried out one more terrorist act – the Kakhovska HPP was completely destroyed, the station cannot be restored.

Members of the Ukrainian Climate Network immediately began assessing the likely consequences of the disaster. The main conclusion at the moment is as follows: the negative impact on the environment is catastrophic, but the exact consequences will be assessed only with time, when the water “falls”.

“For more than a year, the russian army has been carrying out environmental terror in Ukraine. It is difficult to overestimate the destructive effects of the russian war on the environment – a third of Ukrainian forests have been damaged. It is difficult almost every day to receive news about another destroyed natural monument, an occupied national park or the extinction of animals. And sometimes it already seems it can’t be much worse. But this news about the detonation of the hydroelectric power plant and the flooding of part of the southern territories of Ukraine shocked us again. The public cannot stand aside this large-scale man-made environmental disaster, and we, as UCN, will monitor its impact on the environment and climate,” said Yulia Melnyk (Pashkovska), UCN adviser, executive director of the NGO “Ekoltava”.

At an emergency meeting of UCN members held on June 6, 2023, experts emphasized that the probability of a terrorist attack by the russians, as well as the possible negative consequences, were reported by the Ukrainian authorities to the international community with a request to prevent the catastrophe as early as last October. President Volodymyr Zelenskyi warned about the mining of the Kakhovska HPP by russian invaders and called for an international observation mission to be sent to the hydroelectric plant, which was not done. The international community should be reminded of this when making the following appeals to stop the ecocide of Ukraine.

Maksym Soroka, an environmental safety expert, made the following statement about the consequences of the Kakhovka explosion: “I compare it with the Chornobyl disaster. Yes, the consequences are different, but the long-term impact on the population and territory is the same.”

ICO “Environment-People-Law” immediately published its conclusions regarding the destruction of the Kakhovska HPP. The environmentalist lawyers emphasized that such barbaric actions of the russian federation violate the basic principles and ideas that the civilized world has developed for decades and enshrined in a number of international agreements. A full analysis of the violated international legal norms and norms of the national legislation of Ukraine can be found via the link. EPL also visualized the environmental consequences of the disaster according to their preliminary assessment.

The Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group characterized the terrorist attack at the Kakhovska HPP as having the most large-scale impact on natural ecosystems of all that has occurred in Ukraine since February 24, 2022. They emphasized the significant number of negatively affected wildlife areas – 5,000 km² (both flooded and dried out zones). The UNCG prepared a study of the impact of the disaster on the fish population, birds, natural fauna (benthos), flora, rare types of biotopes and habitats on the territory of the nature reserve fund, as well as on nature conservation areas of international importance. Experts note that the consequences of the terrorist attack will have a negative impact on the territory of the Emerald Network: UA0000106 Kakhovske Reservoir (218119 ha) and Velykyi Luh National Nature Park (SiteCode: UA0000037) (16755.00 ha), wetlands of international importance of the Great and Small Kuchugury Archipelago (7740 .0 ha), Sim Mayakiv floodplain (2140.0 ha). The full text of the analysis is here.

Experts of the NGO “ForestCom” assessed the extent of forest flooding: due to the undermining of the Kakhovskaya HPP dam, excessive flooding due to a sharp change in the hydrological regime, we may lose floodplain forests downstream, in particular in the Lower Dnipro National Nature Park. Read more.

Ecoation emphasized one of the major threats from the explosion of the Kakhovka dam – the pollution of the Black Sea. “A large amount of freshwater, contaminated with fuel and lubricants, fertilizers, sewage from flooded settlements and fields, is entering the sea. In addition, the bottom sediments of the Kakhovsky Reservoir, where emissions from industrial enterprises have accumulated for decades, can also become a source of secondary pollution,” ecologists noted. Ecoaction experts have prepared extensive material on the impact of the Russian war on the Black and Azov seas, which you can find via the link.

Last year, NGO “Flora” prepared a study on water supply and water safety in the context of russian aggression, where they draw attention to the fact that the russians use water as a weapon! The full text of the study is here.

Tetyana Zhavzharova, head of the NGO “Ekosens”, spoke about the impact of the disaster with the Kakhovka reservoir on the southern regions of Ukraine: “The consequences will be felt by the entire South of Ukraine: not only Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, but also Zaporizhzhia. In Zaporizhzhia, the water has receded from the banks by 60 meters in some places, the bottom of the Dnieper has become bare, coastal fauna and flora are dying.”

Previously, the NGO “Ekosens” had already prepared local advice for the Zaporizhia region: a study of water quality in small rivers of Zaporizhia and a guide to 10 nature-oriented solutions for Zaporizhia. Currently, the organization continues to actively monitor the consequences of the explosion of the Kakhovska HPP in the region and at the ZNPP: EcoCity radiation background monitoring stations have been installed, monitoring of changes in water quality in the Dnipro River in the Zaporizhia region and its tributaries has begun.

Experts of the Ecoclub analyzed the threat of large-scale radioactive contamination due to the impact of the explosion of the Kakhovska HPP on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. They emphasize on the need for the immediate liberation of the territory of the Zaporizhzhya NPP from the russian occupiers in order to prevent the likely next, already nuclear, catastrophe!

In addition to ecological ones, there are no less important destructive consequences for the population, economy, energy and nuclear security of Ukraine. And all this is the work of the russians.

In view of the above, UCN appeals to the Ukrainian and international community to give a public assessment of the actions of the russian occupiers regarding the organization and implementation of the explosion of the Kakhovska HPP, as well as to participate in the distribution of these materials through their information resources. The world must know the whole truth about the enormous damage to the environment, society and economy of Ukraine and the world, which the russian federation continues to inflict with its actions!

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