Ukraine is an Eastern European country with total area of 603,700 km² (46th place in the world). Ukraine borders with Belarus, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Poland, and Slovakia. In the south, the country is washed by the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. The climate of Ukraine is moderately continental. Before February 2022, the population of Ukraine was more than 43 million people.
Ukraine has a favorable geographical position, plenty of natural resources and big labor potential, but the country’s economic development has been slowed by geopolitical problems and government inefficiencies. During the Soviet time the industry and agriculture developed rapidly and it led to many pollution problems that remain today.
The most severe environmental problems of Ukraine are:
- air pollution: coal-burning industries in eastern Ukraine, thermal power plants, and transportation;
- water pollution: chemical fertilizers and pesticides from agriculture, poorly treated or untreated sewage, etc.;
- toxic heavy metals from mining and ore processing, both legacy and active highly contaminated mining areas;
- hazardous wastes: industrial, electronic, and chemical wastes mix with solid municipal wastes;
- radioactive contamination: Chornobyl exclusion zone and nearby areas contaminated by different short- and long-lived radioactive isotopes, particularly strontium-90 that can replace calcium in foods and accumulate in bones and teeth.
The ongoing military conflict added more environmental problems:
- Disruption of water supply, drainage and sewage treatment systems led to increased pollution of rivers, lakes and groundwater;
- Large-scale spills of oil and petroleum products contaminated water and soil;
- Destruction of tailings, sludge storages, and landfills increases pollution;
- Destruction of coastal infrastructure of ports leads co pollution of seawater;
- Loss of fertile soil and degradation of steppe and forest ecosystems;
- Redistribution of radioactive contamination in Chornobyl zone;
- Mines, explosives, and military wastes containing toxic materials;
While currently it is not possible to do field work in the war zone areas in Eastern Ukraine, EHPMI conducts and plans activities outside military conflict areas or focus on innovations in environmental monitoring and remediation equipment developed by Ukrainian scientists. The list includes:
- Creation and test of mobile modular innovative equipment for destruction of DDT and other persistent organic pollutants;
- Development of new sensor detection systems for the Chornobyl exclusion zone to conduct aero gamma surveys in real-time mode on drones;
- Creation of mobiles water purification systems that can be used in the field for drinking water supply;
- Development of methodologies to evaluate environmental impacts of military actions;
- Development of air quality monitoring systems;
- Innovative technology for medical wastes disposal;
- Continued inventarization of contaminated sites.