Kryvyi Rih is a city in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast of Ukraine; it is the 8th-most populous city in the country. Perhaps the top steelmaking city in Eastern Europe. ArcelorMittal is the largest metallurgical complex in Ukraine with a full metallurgical cycle, including good control with underground ore extraction, ore mining and a processing complex, by-product coke and metallurgical production as well as agro-industrial complex. The main products of it are rebar and wire rod from ordinary and light alloys steels, sinter, concentrate, coke, pig iron, steel, section, and shape-rolled products. The PJSC ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih metallurgical plant is the source of 80% of atmospheric emissions in the city and 40% of those in the whole Dnipropetrovsk Region. The plant was built in 1934 as the Kryvorizhstal complex, privatized in June 2004, and then sold in June 2005 to the global company Mittal Steel. In 2007, the plant was renamed PJSC ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih. In 2006 ArcelorMittal receives a USD 200 million loan from EBRD to modernize its factory in Kryvyi Rih, with an eye to increase efficiency and to considerably improve the environmental conditions in the area. Five years later, after the project has been completed, there was no evidence of improvements in energy efficiency. Although carbon dioxide and other emissions decreased by 20 percent, the reduction that time was directly related to lower production levels during the economic crisis of 2008.
Exporting to more than 160 countries Ukraine was the world's six largest steel exporter in 2016. Production in ArcelorMittal steelworks has a tremendous impact on the environment of the city of Kryvyi Rih and the entire region. While there are other big companies operating in the city, ArcelorMittal remains the biggest polluter. The greater part of the equipment is obsolete, the number of emissions increased. Meanwhile, Ukraine suffers from air pollution, causing tens of thousands of deaths every year, it is perhaps the most energy-intensive country in the world and the sixth-largest producer of CO2 per capita. The point came when the numbers for oncological and tuberculosis disease in Kryvyi Rih became alarming.
According to the Ukrainian environmental organization Ecoaction, air pollutant emissions (especially CO, NO2, SO2, and dust) from ArcelorMittal in 2015 amounted to 268,300 tonnes, which is about 40% of the total emissions from stationary sources in the Dnepropetrovsk region. AMKR is a major polluter in the city of Kryvyi Rih, although not the only one, and according to testimonies from the inhabitants of the city of Kryvyi Rih, under cover of night and at weekends the plant releases into the air iron dust, hazardous materials, and malodorous gases. Citizens believe that the plant switches off its air filters as they are highly energy-consuming. This is partially so, but according to an anonymous source who works at the plant, it also happens because of the increasing production demands of the new plant management. The anonymous source states that emissions, in fact, increase at night, due to the technological features of the metal smelting process. When the cleaning facility is turned off the metal smelting process goes faster and therefore more metal is produced more quickly. The pollution is most dangerous for the oldest and the youngest members of the community who, according to the Deputy Head of the Trade Union, Natalya Butenko, are constantly at the doctor's, with their health seriously damaged. Her opinion is supported by a Scientific Hygienic Centre of Ukraine report on the birth/death ratio and general health conditions in the big metallurgical cities of Ukraine. The report considers Kryvyi Rih to be one of the most unfavorable places to live in.
After the loan from EBRD in 2006, the company avoided making information public about how its projects are performing with respect to the environment. For many years the EBRD, in spite of its numerous loans to ArcelorMittal, has been unsuccessful in bringing the company in closer contact to the public and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) where it operates. It was an uphill battle that finally was won when the company agreed to reply to inquiries from NGOs and publish regular environmental reports on its website. However these reports are still far from revealing what are the real improvements of the company’s actions on the environment. Similarly, also the involvement of people and communities affected by the project – as devised in the so-called Stakeholder Engagement Plan – was not visible in reality. Despite all official statements that environmental protection at the enterprise is improving, the environmental situation in the region appears to be getting worse.
On January 22, 2008, the Public Prosecutor’s Office sent a letter to the Head of AMKR in which the Prosecutor opened a civil legal case against the officials of the plant for the violation of Ukrainian environmental legislation. The reaction from the side of the management was not clear.
Research in 2018 by Czech and Ukrainian ecologists found increased levels of heavy metals in the rivers and soils of Kryvyi Rih, as well as dioxins and dioxin-like compounds — cancer-causing chemicals — in free-range chicken eggs. "The situation in Kryvyi Rih seems to be disturbing the bridge,” Jitka Strakova, Arnika's expert on toxins and waste, adds. Ukraine’s security service (SBU) said earlier it had discovered a source of radiation exceeding safe levels in a new piece of equipment at the plant.
“According to preliminary data” the company violated the norms of environmental safety and, “systematically,” denied admittance of the state environment inspectors, who intended to measure the toxic emissions into the air, to the premises of the plant. Since such unlawful activities “can threaten the environmental situation in the city and safety of its residents,” SBU opened criminal proceedings under Article 441 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“Ecocide”). Ihor Yena, chief of the SBU investigative department in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, told a briefing in Kyiv that SBU received information that radiation safety requirements were violated at a continuous casting machine during the adjustment and start-up operations.(See less)