«Брудна справа» Ахметова: Засекречена аварія на ТЕС олігарха | СХЕМИ № 316
Oligarch Rinat Akhmetov holds a significant influence over Ukrainian politics. Numerous studies illustrate how an access to power serves him as a tool to protect interests of his own business empire, which sometimes contradict interests of Ukrainian citizens. For example, Rinat Akhmetov's thermal power plants. Their work has been widely criticized by environmentalists. After all, a large number of thermal power plants in Ukraine are old worn-out facilities that pollute the air with harmful emissions.
The leader in this anti-rating is the Burshtyn thermal power plant in Ivano-Frankivsk region. By the way, Denis Shmygal was the head of the plant before he became a Prime Minister. In early November, a large-scale accident was recorded there. DTEK stated that a usual collector with water had broken through and there was no damage to the environment. However, they did not allow the State Environmental Inspectorate to inspect it. Our film crew, in partnership with the Anti-corruption Action Center, worked at the venue.
We managed to capture on video the scene of the accident from a drone - the footage shows the area of the TPP up to 10 hectares flooded with a dark liquid. Experts who watched this video say that it is most likely a break in the ash and slag pipeline with hazardous substances. They did not allow inspection there, but an independent chemical examination found that the liquid from the floodplain exceeded the permissible level of such a toxic element as arsenic. We recorded that this liquid was pumped directly into the nearby water reservoir, connected to a local river, which then flows into the Dniester. What are the possible health consequences for humans? When will a real system of state control and inevitability of punishment work? Joint investigation of "Schemes" and the Anti-corruption Action Center. Akhmetov's "dirty business" November 1, 2021. Glasgow. Scotland. World Climate Forum. Representatives from many countries of the world came here to discuss environmental issues.
We also see Maksym Timchenko here, the Chairman of Rinat Akhmetov's Ukrainian Energy Holding DTEK. He is promoting the Holding where he works among international partners In Glasgow DTEK promises to refuse from coal for electricity generation by 2040. And focus on renewable energy. But to what extent does the announced green course correspond to current Ukrainian realities? On the same day, November 1, local citizens recorded the accident at one of coal stations of DTEK Zakhidenergo in Ukraine.
Namely, at the Burshtyn thermal power plant, located in Ivano-Frankivsk region. We learned about the accident from this photo, which was available to the editorial office. The photo shows a flooded area near the station. But it is unclear what exactly happened and why. The management of DTEK is also silent on that day. On November 2, Burshtyn TPP (BuTPP) reported on the social network Facebook that the power unit was disconnected due to problems with one of boilers at the station. This message will disappear later. On November 4, BuTPP announced the disconnection of another power unit. Also allegedly due to problems with the boiler.
But later this message will disappear too. On the same day, local Burshtyn group published photo that we already know on the social network. The red flag is raised: ash and slag pipe is broken at the station. The network of pipes is called in such way. Hazardous waste from coal combustion, namely ash and slag, under pressure with water fall into special place for storage of station waste - the ash dump.
Later, the oligarch's holding will deny this and assure that the collector with ordinary water was broken. Moreover, not at the station itself, but behind it, namely on the territory of inactive fire department. There is no danger. But what really happened there? On November 5, our shooting team went to Western Ukraine, to the scene of accident. This is Burshtyn thermal power plant. It is located near the town of Burshtyn, Ivano-Frankivsk region.
Today, the station is owned by structures of the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. Shortly before becoming the Prime Minister, the station was run by Denys Shmygal. And today specialists, in particular, international ones, sometimes have very serious questions regarding this enterprise. According to the British analytical center Ember, Ukrainian thermal power plants are main pollutants in Europe. And Burshtyn TPP is the first on the continent in terms of the scale of sulfur dioxide emissions. This substance contributes to chronic respiratory diseases. However, this station is very important for the country. It is located on the so-called Burshtyn energy island.
It is the only one that exports electricity to the EU. According to experts, this is DTEK's monopoly on the export of electricity abroad from all over Ukraine. We raise quadcopter over the station and look around. We see that flooded area reaches about 10 hectares. There is so much liquid that the truck floats on it like a boat. What looks like dissipated pack of pasta in the video are ash and slag pipelines through which waste from burnt coal passes.
We found part of the scheme in the public domain. The dirtiest and the most flooded place, according to the excerpt of this scheme, is located along the line of this ash and slag pipeline. After shooting from height we try to get closer to the TPP. But it was not possible to stay near the station for a long time. Security came to our shooting team.
It was finding out why we were there and demanded to move away from the flooded zone. The management instructed that you should move towards the toll bar because they want to close it and so that you leave this place. After this conversation DTEK publicly reacted to the information about the accident for the first time. According to the station, this is not the accident, but flooding due to the “outbreak” of the “collector of industrial rainwater effluents”.
In simple language, what is popularly called “livnevka” broke there. But is it really so? To figure everything out, we show these videos over the station to Volodymyr Pecherskyi. This man worked at Chornobyl station for more than 20 years. He started to work as the locksmith and then worked as chief mechanician of turbine department. He worked many years at DTEK. And he knows Burshtyn TPP well. Judging by the nature, by the color, these are ash and slag materials. We can see that at the time of the spill water went through the access road,
water went to the cooling pond. Well, judging by the amount of this water, this was pouring out through completely cut off ash and slag pipeline for, probably, ten hours. This black spot - looks a lot like this is the damage zone. Also, the Anti-Corruption Action Center showed shooting from the drone over Burshtyn station to Jai Krishna. He is specialist of the European Environmental Bureau. This is international network out of more than one hundred environmental organizations in more than 30 countries. Krishna specializes on work of coal stations. He has worked with Greenpeace for past ten years.
Such localized spill sounds like the lick from the pipeline. The expert says that he has analyzed the video of the accident. He looked at ash dumps used by Burshtyn station and found out how the territory of BuTPP looked like before. He says it was not black. So, according to him, we can’t say that ash slags were stored here before, which then were somehow mixed with water. And there is high probability that there is no collector at Burshtyn TPP, which could break into such large area, according to the expert. And you can see that there is no sign of specifically dark coal dumps here. So there is no reason to believe that it was the storage point,
where coal could accidentally mix with water and might look look like an ash spill. Ok. Could the rain be the reason that there was so much water in this area that we see in shootings from the drone? Or the destruction of the rainwater collection system? From what I've learnt there was no big rainfall recently. Whether a large water collector, it has to be really large to continue such a level of spill for such a long time.
This is just an assessment from my understanding, I don't see such large collectors on the satellite pictures, so I assume there are no such big water tanks, which can specifically spill over certain region and also give ash color. The station itself officially announced that the collector was broken almost one week after it became known about the accident on November 7. According to the station, the outbreak took place on the night from November 2 to November 3 on the territory of the former fire department.
Here it is. According to DTEK, the water has already been completely pumped out by the efforts of employees. While we were near the accident site, we asked DTEK to allow us to shoot this pumped out water area. But almost at the same time, media announced that Burshtyn station had been mined. The message about the mine was allegedly left by unknown person on official Facebook page of BuTPP. According to open sources, the district police and cyber police were involved in the case.
In the end, our request to shoot was ignored by the oligarch's holding and the message about mining the station turned out to be untrue. We sent a request to DTEK to find out what was going on at the station. And at the same time we collect information from local citizens about the outbreak through social networks.
A dozen people call us and tell us that it was ash and slag pipeline, through which harmful products of coal combustion are passing, that broke. One former employee of the station talked to former colleagues about what happened at the TPP. And he agreed to tell us on camera. But he asked not to show his face, change his voice and not to call names. He says that he is afraid. I wrote directly to this guy: “What could break there?” So he wrote to me ... “What was broken? Could you tell me exactly?” He wrote to me: “Slag pipe”. November 9 we raise the drone over Burshtyn station again. The logic is this. If the liquid was pumped out from the territory of the TPP and there were ash slags in it, the ground near the station should be in black spots. We don't seem to be wrong.
We pay attention to rutted tracks from the station to the ash dump. These are traces of trucks. Which came here to bring this. Does it look like industrial wastewater? We also see something similar to construction debris nearby. We asked again former chief mechanician of the nuclear power plant Volodymyr Pecherskyi to comment on this video, shot few days after the first lift of the drone. That's just this place with a breaker and the air can be seen now. That means, in fact, that the accident goes on.
Foreign expert Jai Krishna also watched the same video. I don't think that any of the tanks could contain so much water and flood such a big area. The only possible reason is problems with the pipeline, which has a lot of water with a lot of pressure, which can take a lot of time to cut down and flood the area. So that's the reason why it spilled over. The liquid around the station can be dangerous. The expert from the Center for Environmental Initiatives Ecodiya Anna Danylyak stated this. She has been researching environmental pollution for many years. Іn particular, heavy metals, other chemical elements. Very toxic, and, unlike biogenic pollution, they do not decompose over time in the environment.
On the contrary, they accumulate. So if they get there, they stay there for a long time. Our shooting team saw for themselves how the liquid had been pumped into the reservoir. We walked along this road along the reservoir, and stopped here and saw this.
We are near the station now. We see that there is a lot of water here. The water that shouldn't be here. Even outside the territory. And from that place the water is pumped out by this pump into Burshtyn reservoir. The best thing is to pump it all the way to the ash .... evaporate the water. so it's not that contaminated and contains the ash. And this polluted water with ash, can the water seep into the ground and enter underground water reserves? Yes, very much so. А local area like this has no protection for the soil.
And if such a spill continues, there is a possibility of heavy metals going into soil and eventually joining the water springs and going into the reservoir. The reservoir mentioned by the foreign expert is Burshtyn reservoir, which is located right next to the TPP. The water from it enters local river Gnyla Lypa, and from there flows through Ukraine to the Dniester, up to the Moldovan border and beyond. That means that everything that got into the reservoir from the station together with the water in front of our eyes can go not only to local wells, but also further, through the country and beyond. The expert of the European Environmental Bureau says it is very dangerous. It is very dangerous to mix contaminated ash water with drinking water. Specifically, with drinking water. It's really bad, and the reason is because coal ash is a concentration of a lot of heavy metals. If it is true that they did use a hose to pump the water out to the reservoir, then it's very bad practice.
We ask the expert why pumped water looks transparent? If it contains hazardous waste. The reason why it is not looking so unclean, is because the water has spill over in the region where it's dark, and then the ash is setting down. Аnd as it goes to some distance, the ash is setting down and the water seems clear. It may look clear, because ash has set down, but along with the ash the heavy metals are also setting down. It's just not the right thing to do! Local environmental activist Oleksiy Oliynyk tells. In 2019, Galych District State Administration of Ivano-Frankivsk Region
commissioned the study of water, air and land around Burshtyn reservoir at Kundiyev Institute in Kyiv. And it turned out that the water contains antimony. Figures in all samples, except for two, exceed. Namely: one in Burshtyn, and one in Galych 3-5 times on average. Antimony is something like heavy metal. It spoils health of people who drink this water. That means that water is not drinkable. During shooting of the accident, our shooting team, accompanied by environmental activist, took liquid samples in two places: from the place of water spill, from where it was pumped into the reservoir and from the reservoir itself.
And we sent them for examination. It officially sounds like “physico-chemical expert study of substances of chemical production of potent and toxic substances”. The samples were taken to Poltava to the expert chemist Yevhen Yurchenko, qualified forensic expert with many years of experience. In two weeks, at the end of November, we received the results. According to conclusion of the study, the pumped liquid exceeded the permissible level of arsenic. According to the results of the research, it was found that the sewage, which was discovered by your journalistic group, has an excessive content of arsenic. Arsenic is toxic component, considered as the carcinogen. It is substance of the second class of danger. The main problem caused by arsenic is the risk of chronic poisoning.
At the same time, samples of water from Burshtyn reservoir did not reveal excess of arsenic. The expert explains that liquid with arsenic dissolves in the reservoir. Therefore, the harmful element in the reservoir is simply less concentrated. The same arsenic, heavy metals, other components, yes? So, they get into water, are diluted, and of course, that cannot be such that in natural reservoir into which sewage gets, the maintenance of technogenic component was the same, as in sewage. But how could arsenic be found in spilled liquid from thermal power plant? The expert explains that this toxic element is contained in coal which is burned by the station.
After burning, the coal turns into ash, which still contains the same arsenic. Therefore, in the place contaminated with such ash, there will also be arsenic. If you take Burshtyn TPP, the use of coal. Coal contains impurities, components of impurities, including arsenic. And of course, when burning such coal, arsenic turns into ash residues or ash. Of course, it can be found in an environment, which is contaminated with such ash. Or waters that came in contact with the ash.
We asked the Prime Minister Denys Shmygal about the accident at BuTPP and the real mechanisms for punishing perpetrators in such cases. He is the former head of Burshtyn station. Judging by Shmygal's reaction, the Prime Minister did not even know about the accident. That's not the point. There were no such accidents.
In general, according to the head of government, the mechanism of punishment for environmental pollution works. And now let's take closer look at what Shmygal is talking about. What exactly broke at the station and what consequences for human health and the environment should be established by the State Environmental Inspectorate. Abbreviated as the SEI.
State ecologists arrived at BuTPP on November 11. But they were simply not allowed to enter the station. Told Dmytro Zaruba, acting head of the Environmental Inspection. Our employees were at checkpoint of Burshtyn TPP all day. At the end of the day we were informed that the management had decided not to allow the inspection. The head of the SEI says for non-admission to the station they can receive a fine. He hopes they will receive a fine.
But the amount of fine according to current legislation is about 800 UAH (about 30 USD). Unfortunately, until the draft law 3091 On the State Ecological Control is adopted, where functions of the State Environmental Inspectorate will be imposing fine in the amount not 756 UAH, as it is now, but up to one million UAH, I am sure that enterprises will have another opinion regarding non-admissing of the state environmental inspectors on their territory. Zaruba says that because of the non-admission to BuTES, the Environmental Inspectorate called the police. However, there is also nuance. In order the criminal proceeding to go on, the Environmental Inspectorate must calculate damages. And it can do it only after entering to the station. Where it was not allowed.
This non-admission of inspectors to Burshtyn TPP is not the only case. There have been six of them during last three years. There were reasons. Namely: quarantine, COVID. That means that due to the fact that certain part of workers is quarantined, so they are not allowed… There were different forms of information regarding the inadmissibility. Something was violated in the preparation of directions, for instance… Well, that means that it is a systemic approach of Burshtyn TPP to the state system of supervision. According to our data, one of inspections that was not allowed was on July 22, 2019. According to public information, the station was then headed by the current Prime Minister Denys Shmygal.
TPPs should also be inspected by specialists from other departments. Namely: Ukrenergo, the Security Service of Ukraine and the management structures of the Ministry of Energy, the State Agency on Energy Oversight. We sent inquiries everywhere. How did the inspection go? The SBU did not receive any answers at the time of the broadcast. And the State Agency on Energy Oversight and Ukrenergo reported that they recorded only those problems that involved accidents, which were previously reported by DTEK itself. And the accident mentioned in our story was not inspected. Friday, November 19, 8 p.m. The cafe next to the Ministry of Energy in the capital.
Here we meet the Minister of Energy Herman Galushchenko and ... Maksym Timchenko, the head of the holding DTEK of Rinat Akhmetov. Aren't you shooting us? We ask the head of DTEK what exactly broke at the station and when we will receive full answer to our request. Guys will answer you. I will make sure they answer. I promise you that they will answer on Monday-Tuesday. While we talk to Timchenko, the Minister of Energy quickly leaves the cafe.
We asked the minister himself later about what the Minister of the specialized Ministry talked in private with the head of the energy company Rinat Akhmetov. I initiated this meeting with Maksym. And I meet him every other day. Whether in the Ministry or in cafes, it's the same question ... Look, we specifically talked about …
they shut down on Friday, well, DTEK oblenergo shut down their mine (inaudible) in Donbass, right? Well, there really is debt and I asked them to restructure somehow... These meetings… can they be public? We meet in cafes in public places. We are not hiding. If we wanted to hide, believe me, we would figure out how to do it. After our conversation with the head of DTEK, Rinat Akhmetov's holding gave us written answer with its own explanation of what have happened at Burshtyn TPP. The outbreak of the ash and slag pipeline in the company was denied. They said that ash and slag pipelines were inspected daily and pipelines were in satisfactory condition. They emphasized once again that the collector broke. The area of the flooded area allegedly amounted to 4.100 square meters. This is about as much from the actual area of flooding. According to DTEK, there is no harm to the environment.
The holding states that the departmental chemical laboratory checked the flood water. And results of tests seem to confirm that “there is no negative impact on the environment”. Adjacent plots of land “were not affected by flooding”. But we were not provided with copies of these tests, although we asked for them. After we left the TPP, they laid asphalt on the road near the station, through which water was drained from the outbreak into the reservoir. To which ash was added. And they called it the first road in Ukraine built using ash and slag waste. And then the TV channel of DTEK’s owner Rinat Akhmetov shot a story about the achievement. In a good sense of the word.
DTEK is the first in Ukraine who began to use ash and slag for road construction Foreign expert Jai Krishna says that ashes can really be used to build roads. But this is not considered environmentally friendly practice because of traces of heavy metals. Therefore, a lot of research is needed to determine whether this ash is safe. It's not the best solution to built it next to the water border. To force the authorities to react, lawyers of the Anti-Corruption Action Center filed the appeal regarding the crime to the Prosecutor General's Office. As of the time of release of the investigation, despite assurances of DTEK, neither the public nor at least some of the controlling bodies still understand whether the accident at Burshtyn station caused damage to the environment and what consequences may be for human health.