Location: Ukraine’s Kakhovka Dam

  • Dnipro River Dam Breach: A Soviet-era Kakhovka Dam on the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine was burst, causing flooding to spread over the battle zone.
  • Conflicting Accounts: Ukraine accused Russia of destroying the dam, but Russian officials offered conflicting explanations, pointing to Ukrainian bombardment or previous damage as possible causes.

The Kakhovka Dam

  • It was completed in 1956 as part of the Khakhovka hydroelectric power project, and has a height of 30 metres (98 feet) and a length of 3.2 kilometres (2 miles).
  • Water Supply: The dam’s reservoir provides water to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia has claimed since 2014, as well as the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which is also under Russian control.
  • Reservoir Capacity: The reservoir holds approximately 18 cubic kilometres of water, which is comparable in capacity to Utah’s Great Salt Lake.

Reports on the Dam Breach

  • Ukrainian Accusations: Ukraine blamed Russia, claiming the dam was damaged by “Russian terrorists” and accused Russian occupation forces of the crime.
  • Russian Claims: Russian-installed officials provided contradictory stories, with some blaming Ukraine for shelling the dam and others claiming the dam broke owing to pre-existing damage and water pressure.

Evacuations and Human Impact

  • Potential Flooding: The rise in flood levels poses a considerable risk, with thousands of individuals in the impacted areas potentially affected.
  • Evacuations: Evacuation activities began on both sides of the front line to protect civilian safety.
  • At Risk Population: Russian-installed officials said 22,000 people in 14 settlements in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region were at risk of flooding, while the Ukrainian Prime Minister said up to 80 settlements were at risk.

Impact on Crimea

  • Concerns regarding water levels in the North Crimea Canal, which feeds fresh water to the Crimean peninsula from the Dnipro River, have been raised as a result of the dam break.
  • Dependence on the Canal: Crimea relies on the canal for fresh water, and its earlier closure by Ukraine following the 2014 takeover resulted in regional water shortages.
  • Potential Consequences: Reduced water levels in the canal could have serious consequences for Crimea’s water supply.

Other hotspots under concern include:

  • Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Cooling Water Source: The reservoir serves as a source of cooling water for Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
  • Russian Control: The factory is located on the conflict zone’s southern edge, which is currently under Russian control.
  • Assurance of Nuclear Safety: The International Atomic Energy Agency declared that there was no immediate threat to nuclear safety at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and Russia’s official nuclear energy organisation confirmed that the plant was safe.
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