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Ecorubic 11:58 30 Aug 2022

russia's environmental crimes in the Chernihiv region: how to make the occupier pay?

Public activists from the Network for the Protection of National Interests "ANTS" and ecologists from the organization "Environment-People-Law" visited the Chernihiv region to document the environmental crimes of the russian occupation forces. Documented facts and collected materials will be used as evidence in preparing a claim to an international court.

One of the types of environmental crimes is the destruction of water supply and drainage facilities. For example, on March 11, the russian occupying forces damaged pumping stations, hit water tanks with missiles, damaged parts of pipes, and mined wells on the Chernihivvodokanal. As a result of targeted fire by the russian army, three out of five large city water pumping stations were damaged, and one was destroyed entirely. Five sewage pumping stations were also affected; two were actually destroyed and are subject to complete reconstruction. In addition, because of these destructions, only a third of the city's households had water, says Serhiy Baton, the head of sewage treatment plants at Chernihivvodokanal. Rubryka visited Chernihivvodokanal to see the destruction with its own eyes and record, together with ecologists, the war crimes against the environment committed by the russian occupying forces.

"For every 50 square meters, there was something: either mines, or shells, or rocket launchers" 

"Our windows on the premises suffered the most, 80% of them. A direct hit disabled the secondary sedimentation tank by 60%. There was also a direct hit into the circulation complex, a direct hit into the wall of the compressor station, and a massive hit across the entire territory. There was something for every 50 square meters: either mines, shells, or rocket launchers," says Serhii Baton, head of the wastewater treatment plant of Chernihivvodokanal.

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Chernihivvodokanal occupies an area of ​​more than 140 hectares. According to Mr. Serhiy, after the shelling of the entire territory, the emergency personnel only removed rocket launchers and remnants of explosive devices, more than 20 cubes of iron.

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Екологічні злочини росії на Чернігівщині: як змусити окупанта заплатити?

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Back in March, due to russian military shelling of critical infrastructure facilities in Chernihiv, equipment that cleans water for Chernihiv residents failed. "There were accidents. The circulation sludge pipeline was damaged. We carried out repair work for the installation and restoration of the electrical supply, we carried out welding and repair work," says the head of the sewage treatment plant of Chernihivvodokanal.

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"Today, Ukraine is the epicenter of environmental crimes in Europe"

How to bring the occupiers to justice?

Kateryna Polyanska, an ecologist at the Environment-People-Law, is convinced that all war crimes against the environment should be properly documented so that, over time, they become evidence in international courts. "Every day, the russian occupying forces cause irreparable damage to Ukraine's environment, which will have catastrophic consequences in the future. The Ukrainian people will feel the ecological burden of the war for decades. It is important to convey the truth about how russians destroy Ukrainian cities, kill and abuse civilians, treat prisoners of war, and spread fakes and lies. Today, Ukraine is the epicenter of environmental crimes in Europe, and it is necessary to talk about it out loud and properly document these crimes," says Kateryna Polyanska.

According to ecologists, anyone who wants can join recording environmental crimes. To do this correctly, you should follow the following instructions:

  • Keep a protocol of photo fixation, where indicate the date, crime scene, model and known technical characteristics of the camera, purpose of departure, list of people who participated in photo fixation, enter the series and numbers of the photo cards taken (for example, as in the image below), add signatures of those present ;
  • The date and time of photographing must be indicated on the photo cards;
  • Each affected area must be photographed: in the panoramic shooting mode from at least two sides, a photo of the affected area capturing the location from at least two sides, and detailed photos of the affected area without capturing the surrounding elements, one of which is taken from above, a picture of individual elements of the affected area (the more, the better);
  • Meters, rulers, and other measuring devices should be used to depict the actual extent of the damage, in addition to panoramic and location capture images;
  • Printed photos are numbered and included as attachments to the protocol.

Environmentalists estimate the damage caused by russian troops in the billions of hryvnias. Currently, it is impossible to accurately determine what damage russia has caused to the environment in the short term because the war is still ongoing. We will learn about them and experience them for decades. The influence will not escape the next generations. However, today it is possible to correctly record these environmental crimes to eventually be able to file lawsuits in international courts and collect reparations from russia, a terrorist state.

Photo: Mykola Tymchenko, Rubryka

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