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Zelensky in Peril: Catastrophic Dam Breach in Southern Ukraine Triggers Environmental Crisis

  • Posted on June 10, 2023
  • News
Russia-Ukraine War Flood Rescuers Press On in Southern Ukraine After Dam Disaster

Zelensky in Peril:-

In the wake of a devastating dam breach that occurred earlier this week, emergency managers in southern Ukraine are working tirelessly to evacuate residents affected by the catastrophic flooding. As the region grapples with the aftermath of this mysterious event, conservation scientists are now assessing the long-term impact on the area's flora and fauna.

The breached dam, known as the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam, had been under the control of Russian troops since the onset of the Ukraine invasion led by President Vladimir Putin last year. In the early hours of June 6, both Ukrainian and Russian soldiers stationed on either side of the Dnipro River were jolted awake by explosions emanating from the dam's power plant. 

Ukraine accuses Russia of destroying major dam near Kherson, warns of ecological disaster
Ukraine accuses Russia of destroying major dam near Kherson, warns of ecological disaster

Subsequently, a breach formed, releasing a torrent of water that is only now beginning to recede. The blame game between both sides continues, with each accusing the other of causing the catastrophe.

According to Oleksandr Krasnolutskiy, Ukraine's first deputy minister of environmental protection and natural resources, the flooding has engulfed approximately 80 settlements in Ukraine-controlled territory, accounting for around 40% of the flooded area. 

Tragically, the remaining portion of the affected zone now falls under Russian control, further complicating evacuation efforts due to ongoing shelling by Russian forces, as reported by Krasnolutskiy.

The loss of the Kakhovka reservoir, Ukraine's second-largest reservoir spanning 2,155 square kilometers, raises significant long-term concerns. The reservoir served as a crucial water source for drinking and irrigation, sustaining approximately 80% of Ukraine's fruit and vegetable production through an extensive network of canals, predominantly situated in Russian-occupied regions. 

Notably, downstream agriculture faces potential compromises, including the erosion of topsoil across tens of thousands of hectares of farmland, as highlighted by Krasnolutskiy.

The Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group (UNCG) has released a report suggesting that numerous ecosystems will be irreversibly altered by the disaster. The draining of the reservoir has decimated fish spawning grounds, affecting 20 commercially harvested species, totaling approximately 2,600 tons.

Additionally, the exposed bird habitats on the reservoir's islands have become vulnerable to predators, posing a threat to the nests of rare species such as the yellow bittern (Ardeola ralloides). 

The drying wetlands, including the Velyki and Mali Kuchuhury archipelago, face dehydration, and ecologists express concerns over the potential colonization of newly exposed sediment by invasive plants like ragweed and goldenrod.

Downstream, the flooding could spell doom for rare species like the ant Liometopum microcephalum and populations of Nordmann's birch mouse (Sicista loriger) and other endemic mammals. Krasnolutskiy solemnly warns that these species may be lost forever. 

Biologists from the UNCG anticipate significant losses among endemic plants, including giant oaks, further exacerbating the ecological impact of the disaster.

Furthermore, contamination is a pressing concern. The hydroelectric plant released approximately 150 tons of oil during the breach, while sediment flowing from the reservoir carries heavy Metals and toxic chemicals resulting from decades of industrial pollution. 

Krasnolutskiy's agency has collected water samples for analysis, with preliminary results expected today. 

Here are the key theories on what caused Ukraine’s catastrophic dam collapse
Here are the key theories on what caused Ukraine’s catastrophic dam collapse

However, fieldwork remains challenging due to the ongoing conflict, as the riverbed now lies within a war zone. The floodwaters have also swept Russian land mines into the river, making it hazardous to venture into the affected area.

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