Today, the whole world must stand up to nuclear blackmail by russia. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) will have far greater consequences than the Chernobyl NPP accident, since it will not be possible to eliminate it under the conditions of occupation. According to preliminary estimates, the contaminated area could be the size of Albania. This was stated by Valeriy Patskan, the Chairman of the Accounting Chamber at the meeting of the 57th EUROSAI Governing Board, which is ongoing in Lisbon.
Valeriy Patskan presented the main achievements of the EUROSAI Working Group on the Audit Funds Allocated to Disasters and Catastrophes, which is chaired by the Accounting Chamber. In his speech, he emphasized that there are many disasters in Europe today: floods, droughts, large-scale forest fires, but the main one is, definetely, the war in Ukraine.
"The activities of our Working Group should contribute to the governments of various countries in developing effective mechanisms for the prevention and elimination of the consequences of disasters to protect the population and economies of our countries. All the more so since the large-scale war is ongoing in Ukraine and has already caused a number of problems for the environment in Europe, and threatens to cause even greater ones in the future," the Chairman of the Accounting Chamber noted.
He noted that russia's energy blackmail made the whole world to review its plans on the development of clean energy and reduction of the carbon footprint. Many countries are going to do that by burning coal again.
"We have already seen how devastating the consequences of climate change are, let us just recall the current anomalies of droughts in Europe. The war started by russia does not allow us to join forces in the fight against this problem and will cause new similar ecological disasters, − Valeriy Patskan emphasized. − Ukraine is literally on fire today. Wildfires are burning under heavy constant shell fire. In 70% of cases, this year the cause of wildfires is active hostilities. Today, as a result of the war in Ukraine, 2.9 million hectares of forests have been damaged, what is approximately the size of the territory of Belgium. In addition to forests, our fields are burning. The aggressor was forced to unblock Ukrainian ports for the export of grain, instead, russia is targeted at destroying this year's Ukrainian harvest. Russian troops are carrying out targeted strikes on warehouses with mineral fertilizers, polluting huge territories."
The Chairman of the Accounting Chamber told that military actions caused the destruction of large industrial giants of Ukraine. “Azovstal” is the most famous enterprise destroyed by russia. Since, the situation at “Azot plant” in Sievierodonetsk is no less dangerous for life. All chemical enterprises of Ukraine are still under attack. Oil depots and the fuel they contained were destroyed throughout Ukraine. These tons of toxic products of combustion know no borders, which the wind is blowing for a distance covering hundreds kilometers," Valeriy Patskan added.
He also emphasized that the so-called scorched earth tactics, used by russia in this war, caused to the total destruction of infrastructure of entire cities and territories. Large-scale fires lead to air poisoning with asbestos and other toxic substances. Even after the end of the war, some environmental consequences will be felt for years.
"But all this may turn out to be child's play compared to the catastrophe that may occur at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, − the Chairman of the Accounting Chamber warned. − Today, the ZNPP operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety regulations. The russian occupiers have turned the station into a military base and stored their military equipment right in the engine rooms. In addition, they faked shelling of Energodar in order to blame Ukraine for this. As a result of repeated shelling, the infrastructure of the plant was damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances."
Valeriy Patskan reminded that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe. There are about 18,000 fuel assemblies at the ZNPP, which is almost 10 times more than there were at the time of the accident at the Chernobyl NPP. "It is hard to even imagine what the consequences of hostilities could be on its territory. An explosion and fire at one of the power units in Chernobyl made 260,000 hectares uninhabitable for decades − an area larger than Luxembourg. The catastrophe at the ZNPP will have much greater consequences due to the fact that it will not be possible to eliminate it under the conditions of occupation. Experts assume that the contaminated area will be the size of Albania," he noted.
At the end of his speech, the Chairman of the Accounting Chamber called on all participants of the EUROSAI Governing Board meeting to make maximum efforts to stop and punish the aggressor russia.
For reference. EUROSAI is the European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions, which membership stands at 51 SAIs (the SAIs of 50 European States and the European Court of Auditors). The governing bodies of EUROSAI are the Congress, the Governing Board and the Secretariat.