A huge portion of the Nova Kakhovka dam in the Russian-controlled area of southern Ukraine was destroyed on Tuesday, triggering massive floods, threatening drinking water supplies, and endangering Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. While Ukraine and Russia and accusing each other of blowing up the dam, some officials around the area are also saying that it burst on its own, reported Reuters.
The Nova Kakhovka dam is located in the Russian-controlled territory near the major city of Kherson in southern Ukraine. While the Russian forces captured the Kherson city in March 2022, the Ukrainian counteroffensive retook it in November 2022. Currently, most of the territory on the southern banks downstream from the dam is controlled by Russia. The north of the river is controlled by Ukraine.
What is the significance of the dam?
The dam was built in the Soviet era and is one of six dams that sits along the Dnipro River. According to reports, the primary purpose of the dam – which is 30 meters and hundreds of meters wide – is hydroelectric power generation, irrigation, and navigation.
Consequences of the dam breach
According to reports, the collapse wrecked the hydroelectric plant attached to the dam, halting the supply of power to a region that had a pre-war population of around 3 million people. The city of Kherson and several villages on the western bank of the Dnipro River have begun flooding. It also has threatened to cut off irrigated water for the grain-producing farmlands of Ukraine’s south, including the Crimea peninsula, reported Bloomberg.
Around 22,000 people live in areas at risk of flooding in Russian-controlled areas, while 16,000 live in the most critical zone in Ukrainian-held territory. Reportedly, the Ukrainian authorities have started evacuations and so far, there are no reports of deaths or injuries on either side.