Ukraine, EU 'may face acid rain' amid furious blaze at fuel storage depot near Kiev (VIDEO)
“The fire is big – all the sky is black, we have seen black rain which lasted for 5-10 minutes,” a local girl, Alina, told RT, adding that the village which is near the blaze area is now being evacuated.
She added that the local residents were told “not to go out and to shut all the doors and windows.”
“I see smoke. It’s not far away. The smoke is dangerous and the air in the streets is bad,”Elizaveta, a local pensioner, told RT. Another pensioner, Aleksandra, also confirmed that she saw smoke in the area.
Another local resident, Olga, says: “I don’t know where to run, there’s black smoke, all the cars are black, it’s falling from the sky on our land, we can see these oil stains. It's been going on since yesterday evening, but the wind was blowing the opposite direction yesterday, today it’s blowing our way. My neighbor's car is all spotted with black soot. No one gave us any instructions on what to do in this situation. There's no organized evacuation, people are packing up themselves and leaving."
— Mark Dunphy (@Mark_Dunphy) June 9, 2015
Various Ukrainian officials have given contradicting reports concerning the environmental situation in Kiev after the blaze.
The Interior Minister Arsen Avakov showed journalists a certificate issued by the head of the Kiev Region, Vladimir Shandra, which stated that pollution levels have not increased and are at their normal rates.
“Once every hour, we are monitoring the ecological condition of the air… We are in the normal range. No emissions of any toxic substances were recorded… The air in Kiev and the surrounding areas is as it should be,” Avakov stressed.
However, the Kiev mayor, Vitaly Klitschko did not agree with the position taken by the Interior Ministry and stated that pollution levels were above normal in the Ukrainian capital.
“Studies of the air, which were carried out in Kiev, indicate that the content of substances that are formed during combustion, exceeds the maximum permissible concentration,” Klitschko said, as cited by the mayor’s press-service.
In order to prevent the deterioration of the situation in the capital, Klitschko has banned the burning garbage and has stopped people cooking outside. He has also restricted the movement of trucks in the city’s streets as well as ordering pavements, roads and yards to be watered on a daily basis.
“Those people who are suffering from chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diseases of the lungs, skin and allergic reactions should limit the time they spend outside,” Klitschko concluded.
The scale of the disaster has prompted an evacuation, Ukrainian environmentalist Vladimir Boreyko told RIA Novosti.
“The process is catastrophic,” he said. “People should be evacuated at least in a radius of 5 kilometers due to soot and toxic products from the fire. It’s a serious danger to health and can cause lung problems and cancer.”
“Then there will be the second phase: acid rain destroying crops in the fields and forests,” he added.
Ukraine and some European countries may witness acid rain, according to the ecologist.
“Acid rain will appear. They may damage crops… They can be everywhere, even in Berlin. Ecology has no limits.”
The number of illnesses in the area of the blaze in the following three years will increase, Maksim Shingarkin, an ecologist, told RT.
“This means that about 25 people will contract serious illnesses caused by poisoning by combustion products. They may not appear right now, but later,” he said.
About 2,000-3,000 people have been poisoned by combustion products, he added.
Another expert, Christopher Busby, of the European Committee on Radiation Risks, warns that storage facility incident will be“a significant environmental health problem.”
“These fires produce carbon nanoparticles and produce contamination with a lot of cancer-producing substances,” he said, adding that they can lead to heart attacks and strokes within about a week of exposure.
These particles will be rained out by “the black rain, a result of moisture from the air.”
“If that rain gets into the water supply, it will be a problem because it can cause cancer,” Busby said. “So somebody will need to monitor the water supply and divert freshwater to people who are drinking water from the contaminated sources.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has decided to spend several billion euros on a next-generation air defense system developed jointly in Europe and the US, media reported on Monday.
The fire at the BRSM-Nafta facility some 20km southwest of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, started Monday night. At least one worker was fatally burned in the initial fire. Five others were hospitalized with serious burns.