On August 26 ForUm held an online chat with Oleh Proskuryakov, minister for ecology and natural resources. Talking to our readers and answering their question, the minister spoke about shale gas production, waster disposal program, alternative energy and many other issues Ukrainians have raised.

The text of the online conference:

Oleksandr: Under the Association agreement the waste recycling issue will be brought on the agenda. How much time does Ukraine need to settle this question?

- Indeed, this issue is now one of the most important in Ukraine from an environmental point of view. Now the Cabinet is considering a national program on waste management, the draft of which is available on the Ministry's website. It involves the construction of polygons, waste incineration plants and plants on handling hazardous waste. I hope the program will be approved in September providing that the Verkhovna Rada works.

Olesya: Mr. Minister, what is going on around Olesskiy field? On one hand, they say it will bring new jobs and energy supply, but the on the other hand, there are rumors that the field development will cause ecological disaster. You are the minister, you know better. Please, tell us.

- This project includes development of the region, creating jobs and significant energy resources under full ecological control by public and state environmental organizations.

Pavel Istomin: What benefits and compensations will the population of the region get when the development of the field starts?  

- The contracts with "Shell" and "Chevron" companies take into account interests of the population of regions under development.

Oksana: Will the share of alternative energy sources increase? If yes, then what sources, and if not, then why?

- Alternative sources of energy will multiply by means of non-traditional sources of carbohydrates (shale gas, coal mine methane), solar and wind energy.

- Leonid Volodymyrovych: Waste sorting for further recycling is an important program in Europe. Considering Ukraine's integration, do we sort and plan our waste somewhere?

- Waste sorting programs have been launched in many cities. This is the area of responsibility of local authorities.

Natalia: In Donetsk region there is a small town Larino. It is quite populated, but for the last two years it stinks of sewage disposal. Residents raised the issue repeatedly, but local authorities said there was no money for modernization and repair. How can we solve this problem?

- Authorities of the town should apply to the Ministry. We will consider the allocation of means from the Environment Fund.

Nina Oleksiyivna: Does anybody control deforestation in Kharkiv region? In particular, satellite observations show that 25% of Maloye Shaparskoye stow has been deforested.

- Thanks for information. I will charge the environmental inspectorate to control the data.

Maria: When will the Ministry allot some money for sterilization of stray dogs?

- Functions of the Ecology Ministry do not include sterilization of stray dogs. The Environment Fund allocates means for construction of dog shelters.

Natalia: Why does not the Ministry solve the problem of illegal possession of wild animals, which are kept in malignant conditions?

- It is not true. The Ministry constantly monitors the situation and reacts to every call. We inspect places, where wild animals are allegedly held captive and deliver materials to law enforcements.
On the territory of National natural park "Sinevir" there is a recovery shelter for bears, which were held captive illegally. The shelter is financed by the Environment Fund.

Valery: I am a geologist, like you. I have been working all over USSR and keep in touch with my former colleagues from state and private geological enterprises of our country. Do you know that the industry is dying. Salaries are not paid, specialists leave on a mass scale. How can you explain such worsening of financing of all state geological enterprises of Ukraine?

- I know the situation and we are working on improvements. Jointly with the Union of geologists of Ukraine we are developing the employment program in Ukraine and abroad.

Valery: And who is the winner in the nomination "weighty contribution to the collapse of geology industry", in particular, the shutdown of "Poltavneftegasgeologia"?

- The decision on liquidation of "Poltavneftegasgeologia" was made in 2008. Thus, I do not know who in the government of Yulia Volodymyrovna was responsible for this policy.

Svitlana: I am a resident of Klevan town of Rivne region. Eight years ago they built a petroleum tank farm "Optima" very close to the residential area. Obviously, it was built illegally, and its owners carefully hide the consequences of its activity. Nobody knows if the waste is disposed properly and according to the norms and what impact it has on environment. Is this object registered in the state system? Who controls its activity? What should we do with this "Hiroshima" next door?

- Thanks for information. I will charge the environmental inspectorate to control the place.

Hryhoriy: When will the sewage system and treatment plants of Alushta city finally be fixed. Sewage is disposed into the sea, which causes infectious disease. The city authorities ignore the problem, but the situation is worsening. Come here and smell for yourself.

- Together with the city authorities we will work out the measures to improve the situation.

Residents of Feodosia and Primorski cities of Crimea: Help to save healthful lake Adjigol near Feodosia! Some jerk is destroying it with the authorities and police watching. He completely ignores court decisions and keeps disposing dirt and construction waste. This lake is one of the few left. Please, help up to stop him...

- Thanks for information. I will charge the environmental inspectorate to control the place and make a decision.

Sofia: My big industrial city on Dnipro does not have at least one collection station for mercury bulbs and batteries. The same situation is observed in other cities, let alone villages. When will the government do something about it? And where do you dispose used batteries and bulbs, if you don't mind me asking?

- This problem will be settled by the above mentioned program, being considered by the government. In April, for example, the ministry and MTS mobile operation signed a memorandum on installation of collection stations in outlets. 

Viktor: Are you familiar with the problems of Kherson shore of Black Sea, in particular the resort town Zhelezniy Port? Worn-out treatment plants, sewage disposal and dirt all over the beaches...

- The environmental inspectorate works on it, regularly taking water samples. The situation is not critical for the moment,  but the regional authorities are developing measures to prevent negative ecological consequences. 

Okeiii: In Alchevsk city of Luhansk region, the metallurgical complex and coking plant shut off filters for the night and every evening people has to breath polluted air. However, on the eve of inspections or official visits, the filters work 24 hours to clean up the air, save the face and create an illusion of normal ecological situation. Is it possible to conduct unscheduled and unexpected inspections? Who and when controls the ecological situation in the city? Where can we see the results of such inspections?

- In such cities as Alchevsk, air monitoring is regularly held by the environmental inspectorate and sanitary -epidemiological inspection service. Thanks for information, the inspectorate will strengthen control over atmosphere.

Oleksandr: What organization or department issues limits for solid waste for enterprises for 2014?

- Departments of ecology affiliated to regional state administrations.

Gutsulka Ksenya: I am sure you know that Carpathians forests get deforested and rivers are used as disposal sites for years. What does not the government do to preserve the unique ecosystem? Who is responsible for this? How do you punish the offenders? Thank you. Long live Ukraine!

- The Ministry controls these issues. In case of violations, offenders get fined. If necessary, cases are delivered to law enforcement agencies. But you should understand that if every one of us does not stop and think what he is doing, the situation will not change. 

Resident of ZP: I am from Zaporizhya and I know well what it means to breath plants' emissions. At night it is impossible to open windows, not fresh air, only pollution. What programs have been launched to improve the ecological situation in industrial cities of Ukraine, if any? What measures do you plan for the future?

- A memorandum among the Ministry, Zaporizhya regional council and large enterprises has been signed to develop measures aimed at improvement of the ecological situation. If you follow the news you should know that in May the President visited "Zaporizhstal" plant, where a gas-cleaning unit has been installed. Such unit reduces emission by 10%. And this is only the first step. Investors and authorities have big plans in this regard.

Moreover, a part of the pollution tax, paid by enterprises, returns to them for ecological modernization, and all modernization projects are approved by the Ministry for ecology and natural resources.

Kateryan: What is the radiation level in Ukraine? There are rumors that it exceeds all permissible levels, and the highest one in Gurzuf region of Crimea. How do you comment on this?

- Rumors are not true.

Tatyana: You've said that changes to the Law on disposal fee are ready. Can you explain the position of the Ecology Ministry on cancellation of the adjusting factor to the basic rate of vehicle scrappage fee?

- We've submitted the amendments without adjusting factors, as required by the presidential decree.
Mykhailo: There is information that 100% of disposal fee will go to the Environment Fund. What programs will be financed by these means? What sum are we talking about?

- The projects include the development of disposal net, compensations for vehicle scrappage.

- Yulia Ihorevna: In Lviv region there is a mining and chemical combine "Sirka". In Soviet times there was open-pit sulfur mining. Though the plant has been shut down since 1990, the problems remain. In particular, backyards literally disappear into sinkholes. Does the Ministry know about the situation, and what can be done to solve it?

- The situation is monitored by geologists and the environmental inspectorate.

Tamara: how do you plant to control ecological situation at such enterprises as "Stirol"? Will you demand modernization of equipment?

- We are making the register of accident prone enterprises and developing regulations on control and respond to similar situations.

Velantyna: When the problem of Dombrovski open-pit mine in Kalush will be solved? What steps do you take to fix it?

- The Ministry now finances the monitoring (geological, geophysical, hydrogeological and hydrologic). basing on the results of this monitoring we will work out a plan of measure to settle the issue.

Thanks for the questions! If you have other questions, do not hesitate to call our hotline 044 206 33 02 or write an email. Contact information can be found on Ministry's website www.menr.gov.ua.


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