This report contains a preliminary analysis of the environmental impacts of the Kakhovka dam breach, which occurred in the early hours of 6 June 2023. It explores the environmental impacts of the breach through highlighting both potential impacts (those yet to be established) and measurable or observable changes. A detailed estimation of the full impacts on irrigation, drinking water and supply of water to industry, including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), and associated human health impacts, fall outside the scope of this rapid assessment but pose a substantial concern.
The breach of the dam represents an environmental disaster of a massive scale, whose full extent and implications will only be clear in years or even decades to come. However, it is clear that it is a continuation of a wider suite of damage and environmental devastation caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine. Within each area of environmental impact, be it chemical contamination, military waste or impacts on biodiversity, the war has caused terrible damage. It will take several assessments, difficult prioritization and significant funding to even begin to address the full scale of environmental impacts within all parts of the affected territory.
It is within this context that this report was written – an unfolding war where multiple incidents and activities are causing continuous, complex and serious damage to the environment, and where many effects may be overlooked or not addressed.