OSCE Chairperson-in-Office calls ecological situation in Donbass ticking bomb

The ecological situation in Donbass is on the verge of a catastrophe because of the ongoing hostilities, which is a huge danger for other regions.

This opinion was expressed by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Sebastian Kurz in an interview with Politico.

According to Kurz, the conflict in Donbass not only "pollutes the political environment between Kiev and Moscow", but potentially can become a source of "pollution in the literal sense", since the continuation of hostilities poses a direct threat to the chlorine storage facilities, chemical and metallurgical plants, dangerous storage facilities waste and coal mines.

"The situation [in Donbass] is a ticking bomb, because of the small distance between settlements that are under the control of different sides of the conflict, an incident on one side of the contact line will inevitably affect people living on the other side and beyond," Kurz said. He recalled the situation when at the beginning of this year, as a result of a bombardment, the building of the filtering station in Donetsk, where 7 tons of chlorine gas was stored, has been damaged. "If it exploded, the consequences would be catastrophic," the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office said.

Environmental pollution "knows no boundaries," therefore, all residing in the region should be interested in preventing an environmental disaster, Kurz emphasised. 

"If chemicals fall into rivers or groundwater, it will affect hundreds of thousands of people," he said, "The flooding of coal mines can lead to contamination of water supplies and ruin agriculture even in neighbouring Russia."

In this regard, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office called on the parties to the conflict to "stay away" from industrial facilities. 

"They should be considered as safe zones, communication channels should be installed in case of an emergency, adequate emergency services and equipment must be available," he said.

The conflict parties must forget about politics and focus on the fate of the people of the affected areas, Kurz said. The Contact Group, he said, supported this approach and would discuss these issues at forthcoming meetings. 

"In order to achieve peace in Donbass, the parties must stop shooting, a ceasefire next to life support facilities could be a good start," the OSCE head said.

DONi News Agency