Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

KYIV, Ukraine — The dramatic rupture of the dam that upheld Ukraine’s largest reservoir launched a torrent of water Tuesday, elevating fears of widespread harm and flooding in areas the place tens of hundreds of individuals dwell.

It isn’t clear what brought on the breach within the Kakhovka dam, which was already broken. Ukraine accused Russian forces of blowing up the ability, whereas Russian officers blamed Ukrainian navy strikes.


The 30-meter-high (98-foot-high) dam and related hydroelectric energy station sit in Russian-controlled territory alongside the Dnieper River about 70 kilometers (44 miles) east of town of Kherson — a flashpoint of Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

Along with the facility station, the dam helps present electrical energy, irrigation and ingesting water to a large swath of southern Ukraine, together with the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine’s huge agricultural heartland, which is partially fed by the Dnieper river, is essential to worldwide provides of grain, sunflower oil and different foodstuffs. World wheat costs rose Tuesday on considerations that manufacturing could be disrupted.

The reservoir created by the dam holds some 18 million cubic meters (4.8 billion gallons) of water — a quantity almost equal to that of the Nice Salt Lake in the US. These waters provide cooling techniques on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant, the place preventing has repeatedly raised fears of catastrophic accident.


Russia has managed the dam because the early days of the conflict, and Moscow and Kyiv accused one another of shelling it. Ukraine stated that final fall, the troops occupying it detonated explosives that broken three sluice gates, which assist regulate water ranges when operated correctly. Indicators of harm to the gates had been evident in late Might.

Even earlier than the devastation wrought by Tuesday’s breach, hydropower technology was at a fraction of peak ranges. Ukrainian officers and impartial specialists say Russian forces have failed to keep up the dam — constructed within the Fifties — both intentionally or by way of neglect.

Earlier this 12 months, water ranges within the reservoir had been so low that many throughout Ukraine and past feared a meltdown on the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant. Since mid-February, the water stage has steadily elevated, in line with knowledge from Theia, a French geospatial analytical group.

The Ukrainian government-backed firm that manages the dam and energy plant estimates that it’s going to take about 4 days for the reservoir to achieve equilibrium and cease discharging huge quantities of water.


As floodwaters swelled, each Russian and Ukrainian authorities have ordered evacuations of cities and villages, although neither facet reported any deaths. Officers stated about 22,000 individuals dwell in areas susceptible to flooding in Russian-controlled areas, whereas 16,000 dwell in essentially the most crucial zone in Ukrainian-held territory.

Ukraine’s Power Ministry stated there’s a danger of flooding at power amenities within the Kherson area. Almost 12,000 shoppers within the metropolis of Kherson have already been left with out electrical energy, and water provides are additionally in danger.

Upstream, riverbanks prolonged as water ranges dropped. On the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest, the Ukrainian utility operator and the U.N. atomic power company stated the state of affairs was beneath management and there was no rapid danger to security.

Specialists warned about the potential for an environmental catastrophe for wildlife and ecosystems — in Ukraine and past. The dam was one of many greatest on this planet by way of reservoir capability.

The most important impression of the breach is prone to be upstream, stated Mark Mulligan, a professor of bodily and environmental geography at King’s School London and co-leader World Dam Watch, a challenge that collates data on dams and reservoirs.

“This big reservoir goes to empty down and the shallows upstream are going to dry out,” inflicting vital ecological harm to aquatic vegetation and wildlife which have relied on the water for seven a long time, he stated. The speedy stream of freshwater into the Black Sea might additionally harm fisheries and the broader ecology of the northwest a part of the ocean.


Ukrainian officers stated that the Russians destroyed the dam to stop Ukraine from launching a counteroffensive within the space.

Russian Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that it was Ukraine that destroyed the dam to stop a possible Russian assault on the western financial institution.

Both approach, the destruction of the dam severs a key crossing of the nation’s most essential river. The dam served as a bridge, enabling automobiles to go over; its destruction additionally unleashed torrents of water that make it tougher to cross the river by different means.

Since final fall, the decrease portion of the Dnieper has made up an essential a part of the frontline that stretches greater than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

The crossing repeatedly got here beneath rocket hearth as Ukrainian forces led a profitable counteroffensive in November that drove Russian forces again throughout the Dnieper.

Ukraine’s navy has used teams of scouts to attempt to achieve management of small islands close to the Russia-controlled jap financial institution and areas within the river’s delta. However specialists say a broader offensive would contain main dangers and logistical challenges.

Crossing the vast river was at all times seen as a frightening activity for the Ukrainian navy, and most observers anticipated it to launch a counteroffensive in different sectors of the entrance.

Ukrainian navy analyst Oleh Zhdanov stated that the flooding would make crossing the river much more tough, noting that it might impression the minefields on the Russia-controlled jap financial institution. “Minefields had been flooded, mines might be washed off and nobody is aware of the place they are going to floor,” he stated.

___ Related Press writers Dana Beltaji and Danica Kirka in London and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.

By Admin

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