On 6 June, the Ukrainian Kakhovka Hydropower Plant was destroyed ― according to several reports, by Russian occupying forces. This caused the largest ecological disaster in Europe in decades, which will result in many long-term effects. Engineer and ecologist Serhiy Porovsky details the impact.
What is the situation in south Ukraine now, a month after the Kakhovka HPP was destroyed?
There are problems with water supply in several settlements around the Kakhovka Reservoir. Groundwater level has lowered significantly, agricultural produce suffers. The prospects of using the Dnipro river for shipping are ruined. Vast territories are contaminated, as the flood water reached industrial facilities, fields and cemeteries ― where there are many toxic substances. There is a high chance of outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases and cholera because of dead fish, animals and people in the affected area.
Romania and Bulgaria will also be impacted. I think that in the next weeks they will start registering increased pollution in the seawater. There are already reports about dead dolphins found on their seashores.
How will the situation change in the mid-term?
This will only be revealed after the water fully recedes and the work on other dams on the Dnipro river stabilises. Also, it depends on whether the Ukrainian state will have access to the remains of the Kakhovka HPP. If yes, it will be possible to build the bulkhead and partially restore the groundwater level. If this won’t be done until next summer, it will be a completely different story.
Is there anything that can be done to mitigate these effects?
Now it’s important to record all damage caused by the dam destruction. Preliminary data, gathered by Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology, estimates losses at $6 billion. Other countries also need to record the losses they may now be suffering. If Russia is recognised as the guilty party for this catastrophe, it should pay reparations according to the findings. This money should be spent on restoring the dam to its former status.