The Ukraine Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Organisation and Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have released a set of infographics mapping the dynamics and trends of environmental change since the 2014 onset of armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
“Five Years of Fighting in Eastern Ukraine”, released in February, presents as a set of infographics covering seven thematic areas as follows:
- Flooding in Donbass coal mines
- Disruption of water supply
- Damage to natural and agricultural landscapes
- Damage at protected natural areas
- Effects of combat in industrial zones
- Disruptions in industrial operations
- Effect on environmental monitoring on both sides of the contact line.
FLOODING OF DONBASS COAL MINES
Military activity in Eastern Ukraine has caused widespread flooding at Donbass coal mines. “Due to discontinued power supply, destroyed infrastructure, disabled pumping equipment and other causes, 39 of the region’s mines are being flooded or have already been flooded completely, terminating any further potential for mining operations.”
The report identifies that some of the mines have or have had large stores of hazardous materials and for the five-year period under review, operational disruptions were recorded at 80 Ukrainian mining industry enterprises.
When mine operations are disrupted, contaminated mine water can leach into ground and surface water. There is a specific environmental threat associated with 13 mines that have been more than two-thirds flooded. Moreover, in at least one instance, the mine is known to have stored hazardous material. In another instance, the mine water probably contains radioactive substances due to a 1979 nuclear explosion.
In addition to the contamination of the water, coal mine flooding leads to soil subsidence and may entail disruption of infrastructure and industrial operations. Subsided soil zones have been found in 6 population “agglomerations”.
DISRUPTION OF WATER SUPPLY
Between 2014 and 2019, there were 366 acknowledged cases of routine operational disruptions and major emergencies due to ongoing hostilities. Operational disruptions decreased from a high of 111 in 2014 to 8 in 2019. The report also identifies the specific site and the number of times disruption has occurred.
The majority of incidents involved water supply disruption
- Water supply disruption (55%)
- Infrastructure destruction (19%)
- Power supply interruption (18%)
- Disturbance of process conditions of facility management (8%)
With the onset of combat operations, the government of Ukraine lost control of air and water quality monitoring stations now located beyond the contact line, more than a half of all regional installations.
In government-controlled areas, the monitoring network is currently in the process of upgrading to European Union (EU) standards.