Asbestos Update: Ukraine 2022
Russias blood-thirsty attack on Ukraine, has left tens of thousands dead and injured, destroyed huge swathes of the built environment and displaced over seven million Ukrainians.1 A report circulated on a Ukraine news portal earlier this month suggested that:
despite the fact that Russia has destroyed 30% of the infrastructure worth $100 billion, enterprises are in no hurry to convert to the production of asbestos-free goods. The Russian-Kazakh lobby is placing propaganda boards in the government quarter STOP PROHIBITION OF Slate!2 The representative office of the UN Global Compact in Ukraine expressed fear that it could happen that cities destroyed by the Russian army would be rebuilt with toxic asbestos from Russia.
On May 13, 2022, Ukrainian Parliamentarian, ecologist and economist Elena Krivoruchkina highlighted the lethal legacy posed by asbestos used to construct the national infrastructure in light of the extensive destruction caused by Russia. The author noted that on its first reading in Parliament in February 2021, a bill to ban asbestos was approved; it has not yet been finalized. Krivoruchkina condemned Russias destruction of Ukraine not only as a war crime but also an eco-crime in light of the hazard posed to human beings by the liberation of asbestos fibers from damaged structures.3
Peoples Deputy Krivoruchkina was right to flag the asbestos issue as a major concern. Although there is no data publicly available on Ukraines consumption of asbestos before it became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991, according to information collected by the United States Geological Survey between 2002 and 2006, Ukraine consumed more than 700,000 tonnes/t of asbestos, an average of 140,000 t/year. In 2005, Ukraine used 183,271t, making it Europes second biggest asbestos consumer after Russia (314,828t) and before Kazakhstan (153,050t). Consumption had been decreasing in recent years with annual usage of 26,000t between 2012 and 2015; as consumers acceptance of asbestos was declining, support for efforts to ban asbestos was growing. A unilateral asbestos ban was promulgated by the Ministry of Health on June 26, 2017;4 in a matter of months, it was blocked by the Ministry of Justice under pressure from domestic and foreign asbestos stakeholders.5
In her thoughtful commentary Krivoruchkina dealt extensively with the widespread ramifications of Ukraines asbestos legacy and indicated that relevant government agencies, including the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, were considering measures to capture [data], calculate losses and identify ways to mitigate asbestos risks in Ukraine, including the occurrence of such risks due to hostilities and mass destruction. Concluding her piece, Krivoruchkina pledged that: After the victory we will deal with this too! Amen to that!
May 16, 2022
1 Верховную Раду призвали запретить асбест и принять закон “Об отходах” [Verkhovna Rada was urged to ban asbestos and adopt the law On Waste]. May 6, 2022.
2 The use of the word slate refers to tiles made of asbestos-cement.
3 Азбестова бомба уповільненої дії: війна та радянський будівельний спадок [Slow-motion Asbestos bomb: war and the Soviet construction legacy]. May 13, 2022.
4 Kazan-Allen, L. Ukraine Bans Asbestos! June 26, 2017.
5 Kazan-Allen, L. Ukraines Asbestos Debacle. November 9, 2017.
Also see: online asbestos news archive on Ukraines battle to ban asbestos: