The level of groundwater in the Donbas rises and this may lead to a region of irreversible environmental consequences. Ukrainian ecologists, individual politicians and international humanitarian organizations have been sounding the alarm for more than a year, calling not only to monitor the situation and discuss it at conferences, but to take decisive actions at last, otherwise the region cannot avoid an environmental disaster. In other words, the Donbas is approaching the point of no return, when life and work in that territory will simply become impossible.
In other words, the Donbas is approaching the point of no return, when life and work in that territory will simply become impossible.
Uncontrolled flooding of mines in the occupied territory is not the only problem of Donbas. Do not forget that while the fighting does not stop, there is always the risk of a shell falling into an industrial object (of which there are more than 5.5 thousand in the region). According to the UN, as a result of hostilities in the Donbas, ecosystems have been destroyed in at least 530 thousand hectares, including 18 natural reserves with a total area of 80 thousand hectares. Also affected 150 thousand hectares of forests.
As for the flooded mines, the situation did not get better a year and a half after the topic was raised at the international level. The problem was discussed including with Russian and German specialists in Moscow and Istanbul at a closed meeting. At the moment, the Ukrainian side managed to collect and process information about 20 mines in the occupied territory, but they do not always coincide with the information provided by the Russian side and the “LPR” and “DPR” groupings. As the hydrogeologist emphasizes, Doctor of Technical Sciences Yevgeny Yakovlev, neither Ukraine nor European partners, such as the OSCE, can obtain correct data.
“First of all, it concerns the level of water chemistry, subsidence of the surface of territories, waterlogging of the soil and other indicators. Including there is no information on the state of the mercury mine ("2 bis") and the Alexander-West mine (in the occupied Gorlovka, - ed.), which are at risk of flooding,” Yakovlev said.
He also points out that at the Yunkom mine the water rises “abnormally quickly”, which is alarming. In the “DPR” grouping are confident that the flooding of the mine “is the only correct solution.” As an argument, the recommendations of Russian scientists were cited.
According to Yakovlev, instead of 800 million cubic meters of water per year, on both sides of the demarcation line in Donbas, only one-fifth can be pumped out. Mine water will fall into the groundwater, and they in turn will flow into the Seversky Donets River basin, which supplies drinking water to almost 90% of residents of the Donetsk region and 40% of Lugansk residents. Further these waters will get to Kalmius and the Sea of Azov.
Yakovlev noted that the "poisoned" water already goes to the water intakes of the controlled territories of Donbas. Water is infected in wells, springs and boreholes. This is due to the fact that there are mines in the occupied territory that do not pump out water or pump it out incorrectly. According to him, in some mines of the occupied territory, the rate of flooding reaches from 2 to 5 meters per day.
He believes that a plan should be created in Ukraine to stabilize the situation. As an example, we can give an example of a large industrial area of Germany - the Ruhr, where the mines are conserved.
“The Ruhr is always allocated 300 billion euros for perpetual work - the retention, pumping and management of water discharge into the Rhine basin,” says the hydrogeologist.
Director of the Institute of National Economy Vyacheslav Potapenko in turn notes that the environmental monitoring system does not work in the occupied territory and in the frontal zone. Resolving the situation significantly slows down and puts the risk of hostilities in the Donbas even more at risk.
The Russian side and the “LPR” and “DPR” groupings, refuse to allow international organizations to monitor the environment of that part of Donbas, said Deputy Chairman of the Ministry for Temporary Occupied Territories and Forced Migrants of Ukraine George Touka said.
"There are certain calculations that allow them to be so free. A year and a half ago, there was a meeting of Ukrainian and Russian environmentalists. They were really worried. But the problem is not solved. Environmentalists could not encourage the Russian authorities to respond. Why they did not succeed, I do not know,” Touka said.
What exactly does an environmental disaster for the Donbas?
In the contour of mining subsides soil. If, for example, the surface of the earth has subsided under a landfill of chemical waste, they will soon fall into the water. Chemicals destroy runoff of rivers and lakes, dams.
In addition, the failures are dangerous for water supply, buildings, sewers, power lines, gas pipes and other utilities. In wells, in springs and in wells, water is contaminated, which can cause intestinal infections. So, according to the data that Yakovol led, in the controlled part of the Luhansk region there is an increase in acute intestinal infections among children. In 80% of cases of poisoning, polluted water is the cause.
“Infected” groundwater damages the landscape, man-made earthquakes are possible. They also get into the soil, and from the soil into the rooms where people live poisonous gas can enter - radon, which can cause lung cancer.
Yevgeny Yakovlev assures that, although the factor of the irreversibility of the process is growing, the situation can still be corrected.
“Another 2-3 years, and we will get irreversible consequences for most of the Donbas. And after that, it’s not worth spending money on technical equipment,” the hydrogeologist believes.
It is necessary to solve the problem at the international level and use real indicators of chemical contamination in the Donbas. In Minsk, these issues have not yet made progress. However, like a number of other humanitarian problems. In the meantime, Ukraine is fighting to preserve the eco-fund, which is located in a controlled area.