Donbas may face an ecological catastrophe due to the Russian proxy forces having stopped draining water out of the mothballed Yunkom mine, a Ukrainian official has warned.
Minister of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, Roman Abramovsky, has raised the topic, speaking on the air of Dom TV.
The official says the radiation level in the area is now within normal limits so far but the situation may change at any moment.
"Last time we checked the radiation levels in Donetsk and Luhansk regions was in early March. In total we checked them twice: on February 17 and March 5. We checked, took samples of soil and water – surface and underground waters. So far everything is within norm. How long this normalcy will last is difficult to assume," said the minister.
According to the official, in order to fully understand the current situation, the mine should be investigated by experts, but Russian invaders have banned their access.
"Ukrainian specialists, as well as OSCE and IAEA representatives, were denied access to the mine premises to study and look into the kind of drainage regime used there. According to our information, the mine went from dry mothballing to wet mothballing, that is, flooding. How objective these reports are is now difficult to say because there is no access to the mine. If this is the case, then through the hydraulic links between the mines, water could flow from voids into other voids, that is, pass into other mine shafts," Abramovsky said.
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Vice Prime Minister, Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov believes that in a few months, an ecological disaster may unfold in the occupied territories of Donbas.
"In 1979, at the Yunkom mine, which today is located in the temporarily occupied Donbas, the Soviet government carried out a nuclear explosion with a yield of 0.3 kilotonnes of TNT. Following the blast, the government ordered that the radioactive capsule surrounded by many cubic meters of sand be left in a dry state and pump water out of the mine to prevent groundwater poisoning with the contaminated liquid., "Reznikov said.
He added that according to the available information, the occupation services of the Russian Federation in the Donbass two years ago stopped pumping water from this mine, and now radioactive water enters the soil layers with drinking water. Dozens of other mines were also closed, where pumping of water was suspended.
Yunkom mine nuke: Background
In 1979, the Soviet government set off a nuclear bomb with a yield of 0.3 kt in TNT equivalent at the Yunkom mine, at a depth of 903 meters. The project was named Object Cleavage.
Following the blast, the radioactive capsule surrounded by many cubic meters of sand was left in a dry state and water started to be pumped out of the mine to prevent a radiation spill onto the surface, the flood, as well as groundwater poisoning with the contaminated liquid.
On April 14, 2018, leaders of Russian proxy forces in the occupied area where the mine is located halted water pumping out of the Yunkom mine so the current state of the radioactive capsule remains unclear.