Dredging of river near Chernobyl
The dredging of the Pripyat river that flows near the site of the infamous nuclear accident at Chernobyl, could wreak havoc on an estimated 28 million people in Ukraine, the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature has warned.
The Pripyat river flows from northwestern Ukraine to its confluence with the Dnieper river, Ukraine’s most important river, on which its capital city of Kiev is located.
- On April 26, 1986, a blast occurred at the No.4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near Pripyat city in the then Soviet Ukraine. The Pripyat river passes through the exclusion zone established around the site. The city of Pripyat, with a population of 45,000, was completely evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster and is now a ghost town.
- The dredging of the Pripyat river that began recently, is being done at eight locations, four of which lie barely a few kilometres from the remains of reactor No.4.
- Some 28 million people downstream who depend on the Dnieper river for water and food, could be at increased radiation risk if dredging in the Chernobyl exclusion zone continues, a statement by the WWF said, citing an independent scientific study by the French organisation ACRO.
- The Pripyat river is being dredged as part of the restoration of a bilateral waterway between Ukraine and Belarus and is being seen as the first step of the much larger E40 project.
What is dredging?
- Dredging is the removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors, and other water bodies.
- It is a routine necessity in waterways around the world because sedimentation—the natural process of sand and silt washing downstream—gradually fills channels and harbors.
- It is also performed to reduce the exposure of fish, wildlife, and people to contaminants and to prevent the spread of contaminants to other areas of the water body.
- Removing large parts of the seabed and dumping it elsewhere can have a major impact on the ecosystem, particularly sensitive areas such as coral reefs and fish nurseries.
- Dredging impacts marine organisms negatively through entrainment, habitat degradation, noise, remobilization of contaminants, sedimentation, and increases in suspended sediment concentrations.