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ArcelorMittal's tremendous pollution in Kryvy Rih, Ukraine

The issue of ArcelorMittal is one of the most important in Ukraine. This world's leading steel and mining company damages human health and the environment.


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.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:ArcelorMittal's tremendous pollution in Kryvy Rih, Ukraine
State or province:Dnipropetrovsk oblast
Location of conflict:Kryvyi Rih
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Metal refineries
Specific commodities:Steel
Iron ore
Section, concentrate, coke, sinter
Manufactured Products
Project Details and Actors
Project details

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.

Level of Investment for the conflictive project400,000,000 annually
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:635,000 - 4,000,000
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:ArcelorMittal Ukraine -
Arcelor Mittal from Luxembourg
Relevant government actors:Ukrainian president Volodymir Zelensky,
SBU (The Security Service of Ukraine)
Public Prosecutor’s Office
Deputy Head of the Trade Union, Natalya Butenko
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) from United Kingdom
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-"Stop poisoning Kryvyi Rih" ( with an activist Olena Shafranova
- Arnika (
- Ecoaction (
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Criminal investigation encouraged by the government
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Infectious diseases
Other Health impactsAir pollution. Heavy metals. Oncological and tuberculosis diseases.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (undecided)
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Fostering a culture of peace
Proposal and development of alternatives: 1. In July 2019 Ivan Bakanov, chief of the SBU investigation department, opened a criminal case under the “ecocide” article against the mill. A key piece of steelmaking equipment was seized following a security service investigation and had banned the company from using it as Ukraine’s security service (SBU) said it had discovered a source of radiation exceeding safe levels in a new piece of equipment at the plant.
2. On the 1st of August 2019 ArcelorMittal’s Ukrainian steel mill, charged with violating environmental standards, announced that it will invest $1.8 billion over the next five years to reduce air emissions by 50-55 percent. Also, the company said it would cooperate with the state on construction of new roads and various social projects.
3. Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, strongly urged the private enterprise to provide the people who suffered in the last five years allegedly from harmful emissions with targeted financial aid.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:That environmental justice will succeed is not clear in this situation because of the corruption that takes place in Ukraine. Being a large investor and having people with great influence standing for it, ArcelorMittal is very likely to avoid punishments and control, most probably damage to the environment and people around will continue to occur. Even though some investigations are being held, there is no real evidence that ArcelorMittal will change its behavior and comply with the promises it has made, as similar situation has happened in the past.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

In the wake of ArcelorMittal:

"The global steel giant's local impacts", the report dedicated to communities struggles around ArcelorMittal facilities.

May 2008
[click to view]

Security agency to investigate steel giant for polluting air in Zelensky’s hometown, Newspaper "Kyiv Post" from 18th of July , 2019
[click to view]

Industrial cities of Ukraine are polluted by heavy metals and dioxins, a new study of the Czech experts discovers, 11.12.2018, "Arnika" website
[click to view]

Kryvyi Rih - the Steel Heart of Ukraine, 30.09.2017, "Arnika" website
[click to view]

ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine; "Bankwatch network"
[click to view]

Ukraine ArcelorMittal promises investments after pollution charges, 08.08.2019, reporting by Pavel Polityuk; editing by David Evans, "Reuters"
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Oksana Romanyshyn
Last update14/12/2019
Conflict ID:4844
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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