"The conflict in Ukraine is a human tragedy. It is also an environmental disaster."
"KRYVYI RIH, Ukraine — Gregoriy Sidorenko watched in disbelief as the Russian cruise missile slammed into storage tank number four at the oil depot here, sending enormous plumes of black smoke overhead and sparking a massive fire that would last roughly 16 hours.
More than 1 million gallons of oil from eight incinerated tanks seeped into the soil, raising concerns about potential contamination at a nearby drinking water reservoir in this industrial city about 200 miles south of Kyiv. Sidorenko, a shift supervisor at the depot, said his family says he now reeks of diesel when he returns home.
Since the war began more than a year ago, tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or wounded on the battlefield while the country’s civilians have contended with a near-constant bombardment by missiles and drones. But the Russian invasion has created a lower-profile killer as well — one that could haunt Ukrainians for years, if not decades, scientists say. The war has scarred Ukraine’s natural environment — polluting its rivers and lakes, contaminating its soil, eviscerating its forests — a circumstance that experts fear could lead to a long-term increase in cancers and other illnesses among civilians."
Jeff Stein and Michael Birnbaum report for the Washington Post March 13, 2023.