Alexander Gorobets: EU experts say fuel catastrophe may occur in Ukraine

The first session on the problems of Ukraine’s energy complex took place in the network of the Ukraine-EU cooperation in Kiev yesterday. Numerous expert opinions have already been published stating that if the reform of Ukraine’s energy complex is delayed, it may lead to a fuel disaster. Specialists of the coal industry and experts considered a project for the coal industry’s development in Ukraine for until 2030.

Scientists at the Analytical Center for the Development of the Coal Industry are sure that the role of Ukraine’s nuclear power is exaggerated. Coal, they say, is the key energy resource in Ukraine. For this very reason, closing of coal mines and reducing coal production may entail not only ecological but social problems and even a fuel catastrophe. That is why the new project has been designed with the purpose of increasing coal production. The project provides for the construction of new mines, the reconstruction of old mines, and the revival of the production of coal-mining equipment. It is very important to direct the process to the domestic market to save the situation.

However, the present level of financing will hardly solve the problem; the project will not be realized with the sums appropriated. For example, this year, the coal industry is to receive only 2 billion hryvnas instead of the required six billion hryvnas (a bit more than $1 billion).

The problem of miners’ safety is still pressing. Now, every million tons of coal cost five human lives (it is five times more than over the previous year). In addition, the Ukrainian mines are the most dangerous in the world: state subsidies are constantly being reduced, equipment deteriorates, and the safety measures are minimal there. There are 209 mines in Ukraine; 75% of them make up the first category regarding the danger of methane explosiveness, and 35% are mines in which the danger of an explosion of coal dust is high.

On November 28, 2001 methane mixture exploded at a depth of 1,200 meters in the Skochinsky mine (the mine belongs to the Donugol company). At the time of the explosion, 33 miners were in the mine, and six of them died. A day of mourning was declared in the region. As a result of the accident that occurred in the Zasyadko mine on August 19, 2001, 55 miners died. Two miners have already died this week.

I must say that over the whole period of Ukraine’s independence, Presidents Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma kept on saying that Ukraine did not need its coal industry. They said that it was better to purchase coal in Poland. Most authorized representatives did so and profited by reselling coal. The mines were closed, and thousands of miners were out of work. The closing of a mine means the destruction of the whole structure. And no wonder that a three-room apartment can be bought for $100 in some towns where miners prevail in the population. But EU experts say the whole mining industry is to be revived again.

Alexander Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Kiev Ukraine

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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