Large-scale study on the state of tailings storage facilities in the Dniester River Basin

Posted on 26.06.2020

Within the Dniester River Basin, there are enterprises of the oil-and-gas, chemical, and energy industries, whose operations result in accumulation of large-tonnage industrial waste. Tailings storage facilities (TSFs) are earthen reservoirs of natural or artificial origin that are used for industrial wastes that pose a potential threat to the environment due to the long-term storage of wastes containing toxic substances and the risk of accidents.

As a part of the GEF / UNDP / OSCE / UNECE project “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Dniester River Basin”, a large-scale inventory of 31 TSFs containing over 160 million tons of waste of hazard class II-IV was completed. Drawing on the results of a 2018-2020 study, a summary of the inventory was prepared (in Ukrainian, in Russian), along with eleven reports for each operator of these TSFs , which will be forwarded to the competent authorities of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

The reports provide the following information: volume and hazard class of waste, toxic effect of substances found in waste; location of TSFs in relation to the hydrographic network with identification of the nearest surface water bodies; natural conditions of the area where TSFs are located as an external hazard factor during their operation; safety assessment of the facilities with identification of significant non-compliance with environmental and technogenic safety standards. The research recommendations are intended for the TSFs operators, competent central and local government authorities of Ukraine, as well as for the Moldovan-Ukrainian Commission on Sustainable Use and Protection of the Dniester River Basin.

According to the study, a review of internal and external emergency response planning at the TSFs demonstrated that operators and competent authorities have not ensured emergency preparedness at these potentially hazardous facilities. An important finding was that industrial accidents at TSFs could lead to devastating consequences across national boundaries. In this regard, the key elements of emergency preparedness and response are the improvement of the accident prevention and response policy, the cooperation between enterprises and civil protection authorities, and the transboundary planning of emergency-related actions by neighboring countries.

The top three enterprises that have the largest volume of the waste and require urgent accident prevention measures are:

  • SE “Sirka” (85 million tons of waste);
  • LLC “Oriana-Eco” (26 million m3);
  • PJSC “Stebnyk Mining and Chemical Enterprise “Polimineral”” (12.74 million m3).

The results of this large-scale study were presented and highly appreciated at the events of the UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents.

Summary of the inventory of TSFs in the Dniester River Basin (in Ukrainian)

Summary of the inventory of TSFs in the Dniester River Basin (in Russian)

Infographics on the risk of pollution with hazardous substances: