The US Embassy in Ukraine has expressed its concern about the reports of threats of radioactive waste contamination in Donbas, which may be caused by actions of representatives of illegal armed groups.
“Concerned about reports of radioactive waste contamination caused by Russian proxies in Donbas – major health and environmental risk,” the US Embassy wrote on its Twitter page.
“#Russia needs to end the conflict to improve lives for Donbas residents,” the embassy stressed.
Staff at the Yunkom mine in Bunhe (former Yunokomunarivsk, non-government-controlled, 43 km north-east of Donetsk) told the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) that some of the mine’s pumps would be shut off around April 14, and thus the mine would be gradually flooded. In 1979, a nuclear device was reportedly detonated in a capsule inside the mine. Staff from the mine also told SMM that it is not clear how possible leakages or increased pressure from the flooding of the mineshaft could threaten the integrity of the capsule.
This creates a threat that radioactive waste, which is buried at a depth of about 1 km, will come to the surface together with groundwater and pollute the surrounding area, and will get into the waters of the Siversky Donets River, the Don River and the Sea of Azov.
In Donbas, there are 35 inactive mines, which may be flooded in the event of a shutdown of water pumping. According to international organizations, there are four mines in Donbas where radioactive waste is stored.