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“Ukrainian Switzerland” threatened with flooding

More detail about the plans to destroy part of the regional landscape park “Granite-Steppe Pobuzhya”

In advertising the picturesque landscape of the regional landscape park “Granite-Steppe Pobuzhya”, the Ukrainian Switzerland, National Deputy Mykola Tomenko, initiator of “Ukraine’s Seven Wonders of Nature” project, was for some reason silent about the fact that a part of this natural wonder may soon be flooded. At the mouth of the Southern Bug region work is buzzing on the creation of a reservoir to service the functioning of the Tashlyk Hydro Accumulating Power Station [THAPS].   The government hopes that the extra construction will help to prevent night peak loads on energy network.  It is planned that THAPS will be used for the needs of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant. At night when the nuclear power plant is working, its electricity is virtually not used and it will be passed to the THAPS and the latter will raise the water level. During the day when energy consumption rises steeply, the water will be lowered and additional electricity will be received.

In order to ensure that the THAPS can function fully, the water needs to be raised to the foot of the station. To achieve this, there are plans to raise the water in the Southern Bug by 8 metres which will flood land of particular diversity.

As already reported ( ) 27 hectares of the national park has already been flooded.  If the present plans are implemented, then an even greater area will be lost.

According to the Deputy Head of the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine [NECU] Oleksiy Vasylyuk, the raising of the water level in the Alexandrovsky Reservoir will lead to the flooding of the Gard Island, the Gard Rapids and the foot of the Southern Bug River in the area of the canyon.  The Gard Tract is unique both to Ukraine and in the world, with its rocky canyon, the Gard Island and the Gard Rapids which are the strongest in the Southern Bug. It is also of crucial historical significance because of the Zaporizhyan Cossacks*. He adds that since there are dozens of types of plants which have been added to Ukraine’s Red Book, the destruction of the area is quite simply unlawful.

Battles over the Tashlyk Hydro Accumulating Power Station have been waging for almost two decades. An original plan passed by the Ukrainian Soviet parliament in 1989 led to a ban the following year by the Mykolaiv Regional Council on the filling of the Alexandrovsky Reservoir and the construction was stopped.

Later the plan was revised, however in 1993 the State environmental assessment also found this to be environmentally hazardous and inadvisable. Nonetheless, in 2000, the Cabinet of Ministers issued a resolution to provide financing for the construction of the THAPS.

In 2002 the Cabinet of Ministers instructed the Ministry of Fuel and Energy to ensure phased implementation of the station. This was supposed to be completed in 2008.  However, the first and second hydro-aggregates were only launched in 2006 and 2007, and Viktor Yanukovych’s government extended the deadline for full completion by two years. The amount, incidentally, predicted has risen from 1.3 billion to 3.4 billion UAH.

The arguments given are that the THAPS will increase the production of electricity to the value of 2 billion. In fact, though, this requires construction of two blocks of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, which is massively expensive. Besides the scientific, economical and environmental dubiousness of the construction of the THAPS, there are also serious legal obstacles. According to Olha Melen, Head of the Legal Unit of “Environment – People – Law”, who is presently in the midst of civil court proceedings against Energoatom, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Mykolaiv City Council, there were a whole range of violations both of Ukraine’s laws and international conventions in the process of planning and building the THAPS.  These include environmental protection, land and water legislation, laws on protection of historical and cultural heritage and others.  Olha Melen explains that another plan was put forward and even received a good environmental impact assessment, however Energoatom and the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant are intent on lobbying their scheme.  

The reasons would appear to be 1) the ease of funnelling off money allocated for other purposes and 2) the possibility of selling electricity abroad, this being at the expense of Ukraine’s natural and historical wealth.

Abridged from an article by Vasyl Kolomiyets

*  The Gard Island (Klepany) where in the time of the Zaporizhyan Sich (XVII – XVIII centuries) there was a Cossack settlement, as well as the Church of the Mother of God, is largely flooded, as a result of which it has split into several small islets and rocks, and has ceased to exist in its entirely as an object of historical heritage of the “Historical landscape of the centre of the Boho-Gardivska Palanka of the Zaporizhyan Army.  The Gard rapids at the lower part opposite the Gardovy Island no longer exist, where the Old (Cossack) Gard stood which gave its name to the historic clearing. The historic rapids and granite blocks above the Gard Island have partly disappeared under water.  The buildings of the Tashlyk HAPS have totally destroyed, without the appropriate archaeological study, a part of the historic landscape at the Palanka Gorge where a settlement was uncovered from the late Stone Ages, and where at the time of the Zaporizhyan Sich there was a Cossack military camp and cemetery. The communications of the Tashlyk HAPS have destroyed a considerable party of the upper plateau of the Puhach Cliff where in the XVII – XVIII centuries there was a bazaar. A large part of the low-lying terraces and lower part of the cliffs over the area from the estuary of the river Sukhy Tashlyk to the Brama Cliff has been flood, this sharply altering the appearance of one of the most famous points of the Puhach and Brama Cliffs.  (From a report by Oleksandr Stepanenko, following a visit in 2006 to the area)


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