10:33 19.02.2020

Environmentally interested public demands from govt division of Energy and Environmental Protection Ministry

5 min read

KYIV. Feb 19 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection should be divided and the Ministry of Environmental Policy and Sustainable Development should be created, Chairwoman of the NGO All-Ukrainian Ecological League Tetiana Tymochko.

"The merger of the Environmental Protection ministry with the Energy Ministry, the enterprises under management of which are biggest polluters of environment, initially put the conflict of interest behind this and created the basis for abuse," Tymochko said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Tuesday.

She said that since the merger of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources in September last year with the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, very little attention has been paid to environmental issues.

"Only 10% of the employees of the merged ministry have their functional responsibilities of being involved in preserving wildlife," the expert said.

At the same time, she drew attention to the fact that since the merger, most of the nearly three dozen directives on environmental obligations to the European Union were not considered by the ministry, and no draft legislative act was proposed regarding the preservation of the environment.

According to Tymochko, it is also alarming that in the report of the government on its activities submitted to the Parliament, in the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection section, only six out of 28 pages relate to environmental issues, the rest concern energy.

"The activities of the ministry in the direction of environmental protection are paralyzed," Tymochko said.

The head of the environmental league pointed out the need to adopt a project to reform the environmental industry, developed by the environmentally interested public.

"This project was developed back in 2014, and is transferred to each new minister, prime minister and president. But the environmental sector is not being reformed at all, although the issue of its reform is very urgent. The basis for reform should be the separation of functions in all public bodies that are represented in the industry," Tymochko said.

At the same time, according to another participant in the press conference, Chairman of the National Ecological Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Chystiakov, the environmental situation in the country is disastrous, and Ukraine currently occupies the fourth place in the world in terms of mortality from poor ecology.

According to him, for example, only a third of the effluents discharged into the water bodies of Ukraine last year were treated.

"Given the level of pollution of water bodies, the World Bank put Ukraine in 125th place in the world in terms of freshwater per capita," Chystiakov said, quoting the data.

At the same time, he criticized the imposition of a moratorium on environmental audits of the business, which, he believes, contributes to the pollution of water by industrial effluents and the appearance of unauthorized landfills.

"There are already 35,000 illegal landfills in Ukraine, covering an area of over 14,000 square kilometers. This is more than the territory of Zakarpattia region," the expert said.

Mykhailo Zakharchenko, the head of the public council at the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine participating in the press conference, for his part drew attention to the inadmissibility of the fact that the head of the State Environmental Inspectorate has not been appointed based on the results of the competition for several months.

"The State Environmental Inspectorate has not been fulfilling its functions for more than four months, five candidates were selected for the post of head of the inspectorate at the competition, but so far no one has been appointed," Zakharchenko said.

Mykhailo Romanyshyn, who entered into the Guinness Book of Records as a swimmer-record holder of the #Vplavdnipro project, who sailed 985 km along the Ukrainian part of the Dnipro River from the border with Belarus to the Black Sea, in particular, to draw attention to the state of the Dnipro River waters, believes that the issue of this river pollution requires very quick and competent response, otherwise the consequences will be devastating.

In addition, the participants in the press conference criticized the E-40 project (the project to create a shipping lane of more than 2,000 km long along the Vistula, Pripyat and Dnipro rivers to connect the Baltic and Black seas), as well as the fact that the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection did not oppose the government's implementation of these plans. According to Chystiakov, the dredging of Prypiat will raise large volumes of radioactive substances, which are buried under a 60-80 cm layer of mud in the riverbed, and will entail serious pollution.

Tymochko also drew attention to the fact that the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection does not monitor the impact of military operations on the environment in the Donbas and does not state any position regarding the flooding of coalmines closed in Ukrainian areas that are not under the control of the Ukrainian government and the consequences of this for the country's underground waters.