Preparation of the Research on Environmental and Industrial risks in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, eastern Ukraine

17 січня 2022

The threat of environmental and technogenic risks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions was recognized even before the beginning of the military conflict in eastern Ukraine. This is due to the significant industrial load and dense location of chemical, metallurgical, and coal enterprises.

The beginning of the conflict significantly exacerbated the existing risks due to uncontrolled closure and flooding of mines, destruction of natural ecosystems, disruption of industrial infrastructure and water supply. Not only the environment but also the lives of the population in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts are under threat. In particular, due to flooding and destruction of residential buildings, problems with access to drinking water and its quality, contamination of soils (and, consequently, consumer products) with heavy metals, etc.

Another dimension of the issue and at the same time a challenge for the population of eastern Ukraine is the country's course towards decarbonization and the path of the Just Transition of coal regions. Such a policy envisages a radical reform of the coal fund and a significant layoff of workers in the industry. Consequently, there is an urgent need for consistent, well-thought-out steps to ensure the social protection of the local population and economic opportunities for the region. Therefore, addressing these issues requires a strategic and integrated approach.

Over the past few months, CF ‘Right to Protection’, together with technical experts, have conducted consultations at the national, regional, and local levels as part of respective studies on the decarbonization, as well as the impact of environmental and technogenic risks on public health in eastern Ukraine. Among them are meetings with relevant ministries and government structures, specialized departments of the Regional State Administrations of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (health, industry, economy), as well as representatives of local communities and relevant enterprises.

The consultations should complement the assessment of environmental and technogenic risks in Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the analysis of the regulatory framework for the transformation of coal regions, as well as public health issues carried out by technical experts in the framework of respective studies. More details on the recommendations for reducing such risks can be found in the analytical study, which we will present in February 2022.