Disaster struck Ukraine as a major dam located in the southern part of the nation collapsed. This collapse caused a disastrous flood, endangering Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, threatening drinking water supplies and crop irrigation, and forcing both sides in the ongoing war to scramble to evacuate residents.
Ukraine was quick to accuse Russian forces of intentionally blowing up the Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper River, which is located in a region controlled by Russia. The Russian officials responded by accusing Ukraine of bombarding the area. It’s yet unclear as to who initiated the destruction of the dam and if either side stands to benefit from this act of destruction.
— Faytuks News Δ (@Faytuks) June 6, 2023
Meanwhile, authorities have already begun evacuating citizens and have started to take measures to ensure the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which sources most of its water from the dam. People living in areas that are at risk of flooding have been fueled with panic as the water has already begun to inundate villages and towns.
Southern Ukraine, Kherson, Kakhovka Dam area pic.twitter.com/PnKrXOpk8O
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) June 6, 2023
The potential environmental and social consequences of this disaster are dire. Some 150 metric tons of oil have already escaped from the dam’s machinery, with an additional 300 metric tons that may still leak out. While Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has alleged that Russia had mined the dam in October, it’s impossible to accurately verify the claims.
Whoever has done this, the breaking of the Nova Kachovka dam has grave consequences for both 🇺🇦 and 🇷🇺.
Over a dozen towns on both sides of the #Dnipro, including the city of #Kherson will now be flooded.#Crimea meanwhile just lost its most important irrigation canal. https://t.co/bw5XLBN25e pic.twitter.com/tSid2nPUrj
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) June 6, 2023
Ukraine and Russia have both introduced transportation systems for the evacuees, while agencies have expressed concern about the supply of drinking water to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Video footage from the flooded areas has already been posted online, showing swans swimming amongst administrative buildings that have been completely inundated.
The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed there to be “no immediate risk to the safety of the [nuclear] plant,” however they note that the plant requires water for its cooling system and has alternative sources of water, such as the large cooling pond, which can provide water for several months.
This shocking event has garnered attention from around the world. Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and even the Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, have expressed their outrage and called the incident an “outrageous act” that demonstrates Russia’s “brutality” in Ukraine.
Overall, it is yet unclear as to what motivated the destruction of the dam in Ukraine and what the ultimate consequences of the event will be. Furthermore, experts fear a global environmental disaster that will be caused by this event over the next few days.
The feared “global environmental disaster could be what draws either NATO or the UN to send troops.