Concern is mounting in Ukraine about radioactive contamination of fresh water caused by flooding of mines in the Russia-occupied east of the country.
Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, said in a statement to the OSCE Permanent Council, 19 July:
"The ongoing conflict, which Kremlin does not wish to end, continues to pose serious socio-economic and environmental risks for the population forced to live under Russia’s occupation. In the heavily industrialized areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, we face “the risk for environmental pollution resulting from major operational disruptions and incidents occurring at industrial and other large-scale facilities”, as emphasized in the report by Ambassador Apakan. The report refers, in particular, to more than 35 mines flooded entirely or in the process of being flooded. The issue of utmost concern remains the Yunkom mine in Bunhe, where the Russian armed formations deny access of the SMM and, consequently, the update on the intentions of the Russian occupants to shut off the pumps".
A Ukrainian NGO last week reported a growing number of fatalities among residents of Horlivka in eastern Ukraine caused by toxic methane poisoning and contamination of freshwater sources.
"Such situation has arisen due to the closure of mines and the halting of coal mining operations in the settlement's vicinity, resulting in the process of mine water rising and flooding the lower mine horizons being observed. While rising, the water from lower horizons pushes methane and other toxic gases up onto the surface," said head of Information Resistance Group, military analyst and Member of Parliament Dmytro Tymchuk. Information Resistance is a Ukrainian non-governmental information outlet.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine has expressed concern about efforts by Russian-backed militants to flood the Yunkom coal mine. A spokesperson for the US Department of State Heather Nauert has previously said that flooding of the Yunkom coal mine could threaten drinking water supplies because of radiation.