Mines in Occupied Donbas Turning into Time Bomb


The situation in the coal sector of the non-government controlled areas in Donbas is constantly deteriorating. The safety standards in the mines are not met, and the material and technical condition of enterprises has worsened, causing accidents.

The latest high-profile incident was the fire and explosion of the methane-air mixture at one of the world’s deepest and most dangerous mines named after Skochynsky, located in the Kirovsky district of occupied Donetsk. The incident occurred on 17 November.

As the Ukrainian media outlets report with reference to the so-called “Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” 22 miners managed to escape to the surface immediately, while four miners remained trapped underground. The mine tunnel was gassy, so rescuers stopped looking for them in the evening. The works resumed only on 20 November. The body of the first miner was found, and later three more victims were found and raised to the surface.

It is telling that the media of both the Russian hybrid forces and the local occupation authorities avoided reports of the tragedy. Those days, the news in the occupied territories told about social payments to “DPR servicepersons” and “censorship in Ukraine.”

According to informed sources, many mines in the occupied territories are now being closed and flooded with groundwater. Miners are not paid their salaries on time and are recruited to work in the Russian Federation (mines in Kemerovo, Rostov regions, and Khabarovsk Krai).

In total, as the Russian-Ukrainian war began, 97 mines appeared to be in the occupied territories, of which more than 40 enterprises ceased operations in 2014.

Ukrainian experts claim that ill-considered closure and flooding of mines will have serious consequences in the near future, as a real environmental catastrophe is looming. This is especially true of the Yunkom mine in the occupied town of Yenakiyeve. A nuclear device was detonated in the underground workings of this enterprise in 1979 in order to reduce the probability of methane emissions.

“According to our information, the occupation administrations stopped pumping water from this mine two years ago, and by now radioactive water is already entering the horizons of drinking water,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov said at the Special Edition of the Kyiv Security Forum.

The official also added that he had previously talked to IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and announced Ukraine’s request to conduct an examination and send the IAEA monitoring mission to the occupied territories of Donbas.

Currently, Ukrainian experts do not rule out that there is a threat of radiation pollution, at least in the Sea of Azov waters.

Bohdan Marusyak

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