: Outdated sewage systems cause mass water shortages and poisonings all over Ukraine
Society14:10 Jun. 23, 2016
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Outdated sewage systems cause mass water shortages and poisonings all over Ukraine

Izmail in the south and Sumy in the north already suffered from pipes breakdown and infection leakage

Ukraine is on verge of sanitary catastrophe. The majority of current sewerage system constructed in the Soviet times is totally worn out. Out-of-date tubes leak, thus absorbing numerous bacteria infecting the water supply systems. Intensified with the anomalous summer heat, a good deal of infections has already resulted in negative consequences.

The first to suffer were the residents of Izmail, a town in Odesa region in southern Ukraine. The infection outbreak started in mid-June when several hundreds of people turned at the same time for medical help, complaining about unknown enteric symptoms. In the following days the number of patients rose drastically, the doctors reported lack of hospital beds. Local authorities immediately closed all public eating places declaring an emergency state.

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Ecologists claim the source of infection might be tap water, supposedly contaminated after heavy rain. Until now the residents do not risk to drink running water, choosing instead bottled water delivered from other places, despite it being expensive and difficult to purchase.

Svitlana Suvorova, local resident: "A couple of days ago I boiled some fruit in the water. The next day both me and my husband started feeling bad. It is still impossible to drink, and I cannot risk, since we have a three-year-old child."

The authorities at first promised to clean the tap system with concentrated chlorine solution. Now they say using chlorine dioxide would be more efficient. The total disinfection cost is estimated to be nearly 200,000 hryvnias.

Hlib Ripych, chemist: "Chlorine dioxide is a much stronger chemical. Simple chlorine is more harmful for people's health, though much cheaper." 

Another catastrophe happened on the opposite side of Ukrainian map. 50,000 residents of the city of Sumy in northern part of the country were left without water supply after the pumping station's breakdown. Shortly after it went out of order on Monday, June 20th, the authorities cut the water supply to avoid mass poisoning. Along with the numerous households regional children hospital, military hospital, retirement home, and several kindergartens had to deal with summer heat without running water.

Yevhenia Skuba, local resident: "It is impossible to deal without water, especially having a little child at home. I can't do anything. Additionally today they turned off the electricity. It's almost apocalypse!"

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The authorities in their turn claim cutting off the water supply was a necessary step, since the tap water might be infected. The old tube burst open, leaving a hole of nearly six metres in diametre. If pieces of earth soak through to the sewage, it may cause mass poisoning, similar to what is happening in Izmail. No one currently knows when the water supply renewal is anticipated. The rescuers claim the situation in Sumy is totally catastrophic.

Yosyp Tysivsky, chief engineer of Sumy water supply service: "The water supply system has been exploited for dozens of years. Taking this into account, I cannot guarantee there will be no accident tomorrow."

While the cities of Sumy and Izmail are getting used to living under water shortage conditions, Kyiv has started recycling tons of garbage delivered from the western city of Lviv.

Read also Lviv landfill problems expose trash recycling issues across Ukraine

After the garbage slip at Hrybovychi disposal dump killing at least three the landfill has been closed down. Having no alternative place to liquidate trash Lviv services called their Kyiv colleagues to assist. The first part рфы already arrived at the local dump, 200 tons in total.

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The utility workers say they will supposedly recycle garbage wastes from Lviv no longer than August, until Lviv authorities find a final solution to the problem.

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