kalush_dam_by_kalush-city.at.ua.jpg30 April 2010, New - York - Kyiv: A joint EU-UN mission to the Kalush area in Ukraine has found that the environmental situation in the former mining area is critical. The mission was carried out in response to a request from the Ukrainian authorities. The findings highlight the salinisation of ground and surface water, the need to respect dam safety levels, the high probability of a breakthrough of the Dombrovski Open-Cast Mine into the Sivka River and the spreading of the dangerous organic pollutant hexachlorobenzene (HBC) into the environment.

kalush_dam_by_kalush-city.at.ua.jpg30 April 2010, New - York - Kyiv: A joint EU-UN mission to the Kalush area in Ukraine has found that the environmental situation in the former mining area is critical. The mission was carried out in response to a request from the Ukrainian authorities. The findings highlight the salinisation of ground and surface water, the need to respect dam safety levels, the high probability of a breakthrough of the Dombrovski Open-Cast Mine into the Sivka River and the spreading of the dangerous organic pollutant hexachlorobenzene (HBC) into the environment.

kalush_dam_by_kalush-city.at.ua.jpg30 April 2010, New - York - Kyiv: A joint EU-UN mission to the Kalush area in Ukraine has found that the environmental situation in the former mining area is critical. The mission was carried out in response to a request from the Ukrainian authorities. The findings highlight the salinisation of ground and surface water, the need to respect dam safety levels, the high probability of a breakthrough of the Dombrovski Open-Cast Mine into the Sivka River and the spreading of the dangerous organic pollutant hexachlorobenzene (HBC) into the environment.

Despite the seriousness of the environmental situation, the mission’s final report, submitted this week to the Government of Ukraine, notes that a window of opportunity exists to prevent the existing situation from deteriorating into a disaster. Immediate action should be taken to address and remedy the identified problems.

“The success of the mission in accomplishing its objectives was greatly facilitated by the support and cooperation provided by the authorities” said mission team leader Rene Nijenhuis. “The team was met by a number of highly qualified national experts who provided the team with key background information on the existing problem areas,” he further noted.

The mission assessed the stability of the mine tailings dams ahead of the expected snowmelt and possible spring flooding, as well as risks stemming from subsidence. The mission also carried out scientific sampling in the dam area and at an adjacent hazardous waste site to screen for any threats to local communities and the environment and assisted the emergency management organizations in identifying preparedness and risk reduction measures to minimize the impact on the local population.

The mission was conducted jointly through the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) system and the European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (EC-MIC) from 1 to 9 March. The nine-member team included expertise in emergency management, environment, risk reduction, hydrogeology and tailings dams. Technical support including an environmental assessment module with sampling and analysis equipment was provided through the International Humanitarian Partnership.

The Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, integrated into the Emergency Services Branch of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is the United Nations mechanism to mobilize and coordinate the international response to environmental emergencies. It is a joint initiative with UNEP.

The Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) is the operational heart of the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Through the MIC, the Mechanism facilitates the mobilization and coordination of EU civil protection assistance in response to major disasters. The MIC is located at the European Commission in Brussels.

For further information, please call: OCHA-Geneva: Elisabeth Byrs, +41 22 917 2653, mobile +41 79 473 4570, byrs@un.org; OCHA-New York: Stephanie Bunker, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 347 244 2106, bunker@un.org; Nicholas Reader, +1 212 963 4961, mobile +1 646 752 3117, reader@un.org, UN Representative Office in Ukraine: Victoria Andrievska, +38 044 253 9363, victoria.andrievska@unic.org
OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int