War worsens environmental problems in Ukraine

Besides the many costs of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the environmental consequences could be devastating. Many observers are particularly worried about the potential for nuclear disasters.

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Some Russians are also concerned about the environmental effects of the war. Oleg Anisimov, head of the Russian delegation at a closed UN climate conference, has apologized for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Allow me to apologize on behalf of all Russians who were unable to prevent this conflict,” Anisimov said, according to sources at the meeting and reported by The Washington Post and others. press organs.

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Experts warn that if Russia targets Ukraine’s chemical plants, power grid or industrial infrastructure, there could be widespread and long-lasting problems. “Eastern Ukraine is full of industrial sites like metallurgical plants, chemical plants, power stations and dilapidated mines,” said Richard Pearshouse, crisis and environment officer at Amnesty International, as the ‘Grist reported. “Fighting around these sites risks generating extreme toxic pollution, with serious health impacts compounding the already horrific humanitarian crisis for local populations.”

Intentionally attacking civilian infrastructure is illegal under the laws of war, according to Pearshouse. But is Putin concerned about the laws of war? Probably not. Pearshouse instructed military commanders to “take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian property.” When fighting in crowded urban areas, lost artillery can easily reach vulnerable sites.

Ukraine has already suffered more than its fair share of environmental disasters. The Chernobyl accident of 1986 is the most famous. A power surge destroyed a unit of a nuclear power plant, releasing a massive amount of radioactive material into the environment. Thirty-one people died instantly, and the health and environmental consequences were considerable.

In eastern Ukraine, the heavily industrialized region of Donbass contains tons of toxic waste from chemical manufacturing and coal mining. Since 2014, Ukrainians have been fighting pro-Russian forces in the Donbass war. The war has damaged Ukraine’s water infrastructure and polluted rivers. Untreated sewage has long flowed into the Donetsk River. Abandoned mines have contaminated groundwater with lead, arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals.

“Donbass is on the brink of an ecological catastrophe fueled by air, soil and water pollution from the burning of large amounts of munitions during the fighting and flooding in industrial plants,” he said. Leila Urekenova, analyst at the United Nations Environment Programme. 2018, as reported by Grist. “There is an urgent need for ecological monitoring to assess and minimize environmental risks resulting from armed conflict.”

Instead, environmental issues snowball. As the armed conflict escalates, the land toll also increases.

Via Grist, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Main image via Pixabay

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