Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 06.11.2018
A catastrophic leak of toxic chemicals occurred at Armyansk, Crimea, Ukraine, on the night of August 23-24. It has not stopped. Because Crimea has been invaded and illegally occupied by the Russian Federation, help from Ukraine or from anywhere else in the world has been prevented from reaching the residents of Armyansk. Instead of dealing with the ecological disaster, the Russian occupation regime in Ukrainian Crimea is covering it up, continuing to emit toxic contaminants, and persecuting anyone who says it’s not perfectly safe.
The Crimean Titan chemical plant is the culprit. Seized illegally when the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, the plant has been operating unsafely and with no regard for environmental safeguards for four and a half years. Starting on the night of August 23-24 a toxic cloud containing dangerous levels of sulphur dioxide was reported. A chalky substance or dust settled on every surface, metal objects quickly rusted, and people developed rashes on their skin and respiratory problems.
The illegal but de facto occupation regime in Crimea conducted a limited evacuation of young children and claimed to have shut down the Crimean Titan plant. Local residents observed that the plant was still working, and by early October the children were back in Armyansk. The ‘emergency mode’ in the city had lasted only nine days.
By October 10, residents of Armyansk reported new toxic emissions. Social media accounts were calling it a “real ecological catastrophe” with young children getting skin rashes on exposed parts of their bodies. Foul odours, strange precipitations, and new health problems are met with no positive response from the Russian occupation regime. Having declared the emergency to be over, officially there is no longer a problem. By mid-October the Crimean Titan plant was back at full capacity, with the cause of the ecological catastrophe unnoticed and unfixed.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on November 2 about a Ukrainian mother of four who lives in Russian-occupied Armyansk, Crimea. Because she sought medical treatment for her children for the effects of poisoning, she was mocked by the occupation regime’s propaganda television. Because ‘officials’ have declared the Crimean Titan plant to be safe and not a threat to health, anyone showing up at medical facilities for treatment for poisoning is a ‘provocateur’ or a ‘Ukrainian agent.’ The young mother has been told that hospitals and clinics are officially forbidden to to give a diagnosis of poisoning as a result of emissions from the toxic plant. For the sake of her children’s health, she is now preparing to leave Armyansk, possibly to free Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displace Person, Yuri Hrymchak, said that chemical emissions in occupied Armyansk will continue to recur regularity, since the consequences of the man-made accident at the Crimean Titan plant have not been eliminated.
When mothers with afflicted children attempted to hold a protest on October 11, the Russian invasion-occupation regime came down on them hard. The Muscovite ‘authorities’ threatened the severest punishment for the mothers if they pressed their demand that the Crimean Titan plant stop poisoning their children.
Other Western countries should be demanding that the de facto occupation regime in Ukraine’s Crimea accept environmental monitoring and help to clean up the ecological disaster. It is very strange that environmentally-conscious nations are silent about the ecological catastrophe in Armyansk. Their silence not only compounds the harm to the environment, but it helps the Russians build a tower of lies around the conditions of their occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
If the West doesn’t take action on the ecological catastrophe in Armyansk, it shows that nothing was learned from Chernobyl. The health of many people will suffer, and their quality of life degraded, for this failure.
Photo: a chemically damaged USB plug of local inhabitant