Located in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine’s fruit basket, the Kakhovka dam stored 18 cubic kilometers of water, equivalent to the Great Salt Lake in the United States. The Kakhovka dam supplied water to cool down the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant [one of Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plants] and irrigate agricultural fields of southern Ukraine.
The destruction of the Kakhovvka dam placed at least 10,000 people, 40 villages and towns within a dangerous flood zone. This flood of death is not only fatal for native fish species and local livestock, as time goes by, it will transport toxic runoff containing agrochemicals and petrol products all the way into the Black Sea. To make matters worse, the flooding waters dislocated landmines that are buried since the beginning of the war, causing more danger to people and animals affected by the flood.
Dropping reservoir levels in the destroyed dam will put the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant in danger of overheating, which can lead to a potential nuclear disaster more fatal than Chernobyl.
Acres and acres of farm land are heavily damaged due to this flood. Ukraine’s fruit basket will see a massive drop in fruit output. It will take years before the oblast can resume back to normal levels of fruit production. This major setback will add further devastation to Ukraine’s fragile economy.
In addition, the damage of vital infrastructures will pose a huge public health hazard. Lack of access to clean water sources will inevitably cause the spread of diseases such as cholera, dysentery and tetanus. Submerged roads, downed cell signal towers and ongoing military fighting will make it hard to access critical healthcare facilities. These difficulties in turn created extreme hardships for humanitarian groups trying to organize evacuation efforts within Kherson Oblast.
Connie Zhou, 06.13.2023