Environmental experts and activists warn that the war in Ukraine is likely to have long-term effects on Ukraine’s urban, agricultural and industrial areas.
Since Russia’s military attack on Ukraine on April 26, 2022, more than two thousand civilians have died, including more than 200 children.
Another 7.1 million have been displaced and four million have fled Ukraine, but the brutal human costs and aftermath of the war don’t end there.
An ecological nightmare is taking place in Ukraine as it could take years to clean up the pollutants released by the ongoing Russian bombing campaign.
On April 14, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine said that since the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine, the Russian military has fired more than 1,500 rockets and more than 5,000 units of Russian military equipment of various types at Ukraine that have been destroyed.
On April 8, the total weight of all destroyed Russian equipment is about 85 thousand tons. Recycling military scrap is a complex and time-consuming process that can take decades to eliminate.
There are oil refineries and chemical plants in most parts of eastern Ukraine, where much of the conflict took place.
And with the attacks and missiles hitting those refineries, chemical plants, and ammonia pipelines, the nation’s air, water, and soil have been poisoned.
Russia’s senseless war against Ukraine has not only resulted in the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians and millions more displaced people, but also in environmental pollution that continues to threaten the health and lives of all survivors. 1/4
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) pic.twitter.com/pcRh1Kbjjr
— US Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) April 22, 2022
The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine together with local NGOs recorded 111 attacks on industrial sites, power plants, water stations, gas pipelines and unique natural resources.
“During the first month of the war, over 1,100 rockets were fired into the territory of Ukraine and about 4,000 units of various types of military equipment were destroyed,” says Yevhenia Zasiadko, the head of Ecoaction.
“This will lead to the accumulation of carcinogenic waste as spilled fuel from exploded rockets contaminates the soil and groundwater with chemicals and heavy metals.”
In addition, there is a huge impact on agricultural land from large-scale mining by Russian troops.
As a result, huge arable land in Ukraine can no longer be used for agriculture.
Residents of many other towns and villages in Ukraine say the war has polluted their air, water and soil. In Kyiv, for example, air quality deteriorated due to the heaviest fighting in March.
Almost two weeks after the beginning of the Russian invasion of #Ukrainewe have observed how this has contributed to acute and long-term conflict pollution #OSINT and #remote sensing and how this may affect public health and the environment. Here’s what we’ve found so far: 1/x https://t.co/nR2QXOU2zy pic.twitter.com/uZHhB4oGaK
— Wim Zwijnenburg (@wammezz) March 9, 2022
At that time, residents were asked not to open their windows because of the concentration of pollutants in the air 27.8 times higher than the guidelines of the World Health Organization, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Experts also warn that exposure to heavy metals and toxic gases released by particles from explosions, fires and building collapses can cause longer-term health hazards, such as the risk of cancer and respiratory diseases, not only in Ukraine but beyond its borders.
“The effects of this war will be long-lasting, it will take many years for displaced people to overcome the negative environmental and health impacts of the war, not to mention the psychological scars,” said Elizabeth Warn, deputy chief of mission at IOM Ukraine.
“People returning to their homes after displacement, inside and outside Ukraine, need to be provided with sustainable livelihoods, housing, jobs and health care to rebuild their lives and build resilience.”
In light of these environmental concerns, environmentalists have dubbed the effects “ecocide.” As a result, they are trying to bring international criminal charges against Russia, according to Ecoaction, a Ukrainian environmental agency.
“Russia should pay for these crimes,” said Evgenia Zasiadko, head of the climate department at Ecoaction.
“Not only for the people killed and injured, not only for the infrastructure and the cities, but also for the damage to the environment.
“My biggest fear is that the damage will be so great that we won’t be able to rebuild,” she said.
Source: TRT World