For over two years, there have been public discussions regarding the construction of six new big hydro power plants on the Dniester.
PJSC “Ukrhydroenergo” and the Ministry of Fuel and Energy insist on the necessity of the construction stipulating it by the lack of electricity and the need to protect the population from floods. On the other side, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, environmentalists, scientists, tourists and local communities strongly object to the construction arguing that the unique natural complexes of the Dniester Canyon will be destroyed globally, the threat of flooding will only increase, and local residents will lose traditional sources of earnings from tourism and production of agricultural products.
Also, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk oblast councils and several other local self-government bodies expressed their disagreements with the construction of the hydro power plants by making decisions on the prohibition of the construction of hydro power plants. The Ivano-Frankivsk Regional State Administration even addressed the prime-minister with a similar request.
Despite all this, in December 2016, PJSC “Ukrhydroenergo” announced a tender for the feasibility study (in fact for the development of project documentation) for the construction of a cascade of 6 hydro power plants on the Dniester that cost 155 million hryvnias. Only thanks to strong public pressure the tender was canceled.
Unfortunately, the construction of hydro power plants is lobbied on the highest level, thus in reply to information requests from local councils to the Presidential Administration and the Cabinet of Ministers they received just formal answers. Moreover, funding for feasibility study was already included in the electricity tariff for 2017.
Having received “green light” for destruction of the Dniester from leadership of Ukraine, PJSC “Ukrhidroenergo” decied to start project development works for construction of hydro power plants on the Dniester and in fact allocated funds for this. In order to lull the vigilance of the public, they decided to disguise this as a new procedure of environmental impact assessment.
In November and December, a number of tenders were held for procuring services of studying the environmental impact of the construction of hydro power plants. The biggest amount of funding, about 10 and a half million UAH, was received by “Design and Research Institute “Energoinzhprojeck” Ltd to “conduct research necessary for environmental impact assessment and prognosis of the planned construction of the cascade of hydro power plant in the upper Dniester with the aim to prepare the notification about the planned activities of “Ukrhydroenergo” PJSC regarding construction of hydro power plants on the Dniester”.
The list of institutions that concluded agreements with “Ukrhidroenergo” PJSC to conduct research, according to Prozorro system
|Themes of research||Costs (UAH)||Executors|
|Environmental, geological and chemical studies of environmental objects||198 000||The Institute of Geochemistry, Minerology and Ore creation named after Semenenko M. P. of the National Academy of Sciences|
|Objects of archeological heritage of the region||377 356,30||The Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
|Geological conditions that are dangerous for implementation of the project.||144 000||The state enterprise “The Scientific Center of Aerospace Research of the Earth of the Institute of Geological Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine”|
|Fauna, current state of terrestrial populations of rare and background animal species||160 534||The National Scientific and Natural Museum of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
|Water system state||70 000||The Institute of Hydrobiology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
|Quantitative characteristics of seismic danger||86 000||S. I. Subbotin Institute of Geophysics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
|Hydrogeology||72 000||The state institution «Scientific and engineering center of radiohydrogeoenvironmental polygon research of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine”|
|Hydrometeorological and hydrochemical regimes of the Dniester||69 945,60||The Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute of the State Service of Ukraine for Emergencies and the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
|Geological environment||198 000||The Institute of Geological Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
|Flora of vascular plants, its rare components and processes of synantropization of territories||148 342||The National Scientific and Natural Museum of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
|Analysis of geomorphological and neotectonic conditions of the upper flow of the Dniester that are dangerous for implementation of the project of construction of the cascade of hydro power plants.||100 000||The Institute of Geography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine|
Smaller amounts, from 70 to 377 thousand UAH, were received by various state research institutions and enterprises for researching particular aspects of future construction of hydro power plants.
We could be very glad that hydro energy industry plans its activities according to new European environmental norms and order complex research from scientific institutions, but there is one “however”!
First of all, the position of local communities against construction of hydro power plants is firm. They are ready to undertake direct actions including blocking of future construction works. Also, they are not going to grant any permits for construction of hydro power plants including permits for allocation of land lots etc.
“The notification about the planned activities” is only the first stage of the procedure of environmental impact assessment, and the notification itself is quite a short document. If for development of this short document more than ten million UAH are to be spent, then the costs of the next stage – environmental impact assessment – will be dozens times higher and will reach the level of hundreds of millions. Therefore, it is not clear why should dozens and then hundreds of millions UAH of state budget funds be spent on the project that cannot be implemented!
Secondly, EPL hopes for honest and fair research but has grounded suspicions that it can be biased:
The Institute of Ecology of the Carpathians of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine has already issued a complex conclusion regarding the construction of hydro power plants that clearly states that hydro power plants cannot be constructed on the Dniester!
The same position is shared by researchers of the national nature parks “Halytskyi”, :Dniester Canyon”, “Khotynskyi”, “Podilski Tovtry” that have been working for years in this territory researching natural complexes and anthropogenic impact on them.
In the terms of reference for research of specific aspects of future construction works, the locations of the planned construction works are clearly stipulated and the documents focus on “ways of minimizing the impact of hydro power plants”. Therefore, the developer presumes that hydro power plants will be constructed and their impact can only be minimized but not prevented.
Very short deadlines for research (November-December 2017) make it impossible to conduct thorough research in the locations of the planned construction of hydro power plants. In particular, in order to provide reliable conclusions on flora and fauna, it is necessary to analyze them for at least one full season because in December and November some species of plants and animals cannot be physically detected. However, the National Research Nature Museum of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine that is supposed to conduct this part of “research” plans to do it without any “in-situ” studies.
Therefore, once again we call on “Ukrhydroenergo” PJSC and the government of Ukraine to abandon the idea of destroying the Dniester and stop spending state budget funds on this and provoking conflicts with local communities. We also call on researchers to work honestly and fairly and oppose temptations from hydro power industry.
For further information please contact:
Petro Testov, EPL environmental scientist
tel.: (032) 225 – 76 -82; (068) 934 – 95 – 74