As known earlier, in October 2015 the territory of Kozachelaherska arena of Nizhniodniprovskiy (Oleshkivski) sands was entered by military troops. Military armed forces in fact illegally seized the territory, including the part that borders on the national natural park “Oleshkivski sands.” Information about this fact was disseminated by administration of the national natural park via its web-page.1 The park has 1391 hectares of protected area that are prohibited to be entered. . “We understand the need to increase military capacity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and their need for constant training, but it is unacceptable on the one hand to defend our land, but on the other hand destroy its natural heritage” – the statement states.
According to the administratio of the national park, for a long period there have been heard several hundred shots and explosions from different weapons in the protected areas. The militaries banned entrance to the park for staff of the national park. As it became known, the mechanized brigade of operational reaction “East” perform their battalion tactical training there. “According to the legend, Ukrainian militaries keep the defense on borders. Meanwhile, sabotage and reconnaissance groups are trying to break through the defensive ranks. Militaries of the mechanized brigade come to defence. These militaries are helped by other units: mortar, artillery, tank divisions.”2
The Ministry of Defense does not answer information requests from the administration of the park and NGOs regarding this situation. In addition, the situation has not changed even after the issue was given publicity in the newspaper “Voice of Ukraine”3 and on the web resources “Ukrainian Pravda»4.
Because of the attacks, soils get contaminated with a number of chemical compounds, cyanide, formaldehyde, aluminum oxide, as well as a large number of identified and unidentified toxic organics. In addition, the concentration of heavy metals in soils reaches a life-threatening level. In the crater there was discovered titanium, vanadium, lead, cadmium, nickel, zinc, strontium, manganese, iron, copper, zirconium, cobalt, gallium, and even rare earth metal yttrium.
“For the first time Nizhnedneprovskiy sands received protected status back in 1928. But then the Sand reserve was liquidated because of political persecution of its employees by the totalitarian regime. In Soviet times there was located a military training ground. After liquidation of the training ground its the most valuable part was declared to be national natural park “Oleshkivski Sands” to restore unique sandy steppes that were damaged by militaries.
Sandy steppes are among the most fragile ecosystems in Ukraine. Even small damage can be sufficient to trigger the destruction of all natural complex and transform it into a desert.
EPL believes that activities of the mechanized brigade of operational commanding “East” in the territory of the national natural park “Oleshkivski Sands” are violation of environmental legislation and provides for liability under Article 252 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. With this regard EPL appealed to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine with a request to initiate criminal proceedings and conduct calculation of damage to the territory of the natural reserve fund through mechanical destruction, contamination of soils with products of explosions and unauthorized use of land.
Oleksiy Vasyliuk, EPL environmentalist
(032) 225 76 82, 097 100 04 73