Floods in Ukraine: Destruction of Kakhovka dam will impact thousands - Doctors of the World

Floods in Ukraine: Destruction of Kakhovka dam will impact thousands


Doctors of the World, having been in Ukraine for more than a year, witnessed another disaster affecting the Ukrainian people, following the destruction of the hydroelectric dam in Nova Kakhovka which resulted in the flooding of an extensive area, severely affecting around 17,000 people and potentially affecting more than 42,000 people in the region.

At least 28 towns and villages in southern Ukraine have already been put under a state of emergency. Hundreds of houses have been destroyed and thousands of people are being displaced from their homes. According to the International Organization for Migration, an estimated 2,200 people have been displaced in areas controlled by Ukraine. Civilians, fearing looting, are staying close to their homes and refusing to move out of Nova Kakhovka, strongly wishing to return to them once the water level recedes, which is expected to reach critical levels.



Total destruction of the hydroelectric power station in Kakhovka


According to “Ukrhydroenergo”, the state-owned operator of Ukraine’s hydroelectric power plants, the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) has been completely destroyed. The peak of the water dumping from the Kakhovka Reservoir occurred on the morning of 07 June. Kakhovka Reservoir, formed by the Kakhovka Dam and stretches 240 km through Zaporizka, Dnipropetrovska and Khersonska oblasts. An estimated 600 km2 of Khersonska oblast is reportedly currently under water.

The Government of Ukraine called upon the international organizations, including the ICRC and UN, to assist people affected in the Russian-controlled left bank.

The damage and subsequent collapse of KHPP released between 150 and 450 tonnes of engine oil from the power plant’s turbines into the Dnipro River. The scale of the immediate and long-term environmental damage from oil spillage has not been accurately assessed as of the time of this update. In addition, hazardous industrial installations may be affected by flooding. Of these, 20 are located in an area with an increased risk of flooding. 

In the Zaporizhzhya, Dniepropetrovsk and Kherson regions the irrigation systems have been destroyed and the cooling system and the safety of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Reactor have been severely affected.

Water contamination is a major concern across the region, as it has serious implications for access to basic services, including food and water. Hundreds of thousands of people are without regular access to drinking water.

In addition to causing large-scale displacement from riverside communities and material damage caused by flooding downstream of the destroyed Kakhovka Dam and environmental damage, the depletion of the Kakhovka Reservoir could result in the shortage of drinking water in the southern oblasts.

“Ukrhydroenergo” has already indicated that it intends to redirect water from the Dnipro Cascade to Kryvyi Rih to mitigate the risk for this city. These measures will likely have an impact on the power generation capacity of other hydroelectric power plants further upstream from the Kakhovka Reservoir, most likely translating into rolling blackouts in the coming days and weeks.



Despite the floods, violence continues

Russian forces began shelling Kherson throughout June 8 with artillery and MLRS. The coastal area, Korabelnyi Raion and the central part of the city were hit hardest. The shelling of evacuation points, including Korabelnyi Square, reportedly began a few hours after the President of Ukraine’s visit to the city. As a result of the shelling of Kherson, nine people were injured, including officers of the State Emergency Service, a police officer, a doctor and a foreign civilian volunteer.

The shelling of Kherson continues despite the floods and at least the southern part of the city remains within the range of Russian artillery and MLRS. At the same time, extensive flooding has displaced mines, turning the affected areas into a dangerous minefield.