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Zaporizhstal plant in Zaporizhia, Ukraine

The steel plant contaminates the atmosphere as well as the water in the city. Activists push local authorities to initiated eco-forums and round tables for a dialogue with the state industry for higher accountability


This conflict  is a result of  harmful activity of one of largest steel plants in Ukrainewhich is located in the city of Zaporizhia. The activity of the Zaporizhstal plant contaminates the atmosphere as well as the water in the city. There is very little official information on emissions, but according to some of the media investigations the amount of discharged sewage in 2015 was 930.4 million m3, out of which 70.04 million m3 were contaminated. Zaporishstal plant discharges up to 75 tons of sulphuric acid into the rivers and lakes of the surrounding area.  In December 2016 the city administration of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources informed the local inhabitants about the contamination, presenting that the amount of phenol in the air of the central area of the city was 0.023 mg / m3, which is 2, 5 higher than is allowed. The city administration calculated that in  the total average contamination of the atmosphere in 2016 was 18,5 % higher than ‘normal’ (the norm is not specified, many environmental activists also complain that norms in Ukraine are higher than they should be)[1].  Complaints and demands of the locals  Activists circles are mainly driven by academics- specialists in environmental studies. Locals and activists complain that it has become impossible to breathe in the city, especially in the central area where most of the factories (and particularly Zaporizhstal plant) are located. According to the medical statistics data from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine  (2006-2012 year) - the lunge diseases sickness rate in Zaporizhia is higher than average, particularly the population suffers from bronchial asthma [2].   The other complain is that the local administration of the Ministry of the Environment and natural resources does not inform the population about the contamination of the atmosphere (being informed about contamination is a constitutional right in Ukraine). Every month the administration is obliged to inform about the amount of harmful substances in the atmosphere in relation to the boundary admissible norm. However, the last time the administration informed locals about the contamination was in the end of December 2016 presenting that the amount of phenol in the air of the central area of the city was  0.023 mg / m3, which is 2, 5 higher than is allowed. They calculated that in  the total average contamination of the atmosphere in 2016 was 18,5 % higher than ‘normal’ (the norm is not specified though) [3]. Since then any updates are absent and if you click on the later dates the website presents you last years information. Another listed problem is that it is not possible to give a spontaneous visit to the plant without getting a permission from the administration of the plant first. Having no support from the side of the government activists have almost no means of societal control available. Potentially the workers of the plant could be of a great help, but an informal source tells that administration of the plant constantly persuades (or rather bribes ) the workers to not to bring up the problem of absence of filters. The workers are put into a position where they supposedly have to choose between getting a financial bonus or not getting anything, as this money will be spent on restructuring of the plant. Considering poor economical situation in Ukraine at the moment  this question is a non-brainer.    Forms of protests: Various forms of protests have been taking place for the past 3 years. Earlier in 2015 and 2016 activists protested in front of the local administration. Wearing gas masks activists would gather to welcome the minsters of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources on their visit to the city. These protests were not large and did not result into fulfilling the demands of the locals. Recently actions mainly take form of petitions and appeals to deputies. For activists this is a way to push local authorities to initiated eco-forums and round tables to create a dialogue between the representatives of the state industry and business on the one side and activists on the other [4].  

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Zaporizhstal plant in Zaporizhia, Ukraine
Location of conflict:Zaporizhia
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Metal refineries
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The most recent data on the official website says that In 2014 has produced 3807,8 thousend tons of iron, 3979,5 thousend tons of steel and 3354,0 thousend tons of rolled stock.

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Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:the whole population of the city, 784 741 persons (including 26 730 persons of internally displaced people from Donetsk and Luhansk)
Company names or state enterprises:Zaporishstal from Ukraine
Relevant government actors:The city administration of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine;
The Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:"Coalition Eco Zaporizhya". The organisation is mostly consists of academics and researchers in the field of environmental studies. The Coalition does not have a web-site, but one could watch a video from one of their meeting with different politicians ( )
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Global warming, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactsAccording to the medical statistics data from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine (2006-2012 year) - the lunge diseases sickness rate in Zaporishya is higher than average, particularly the population suffers from bronchial asthma (
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Under negotiation
Implementation (or rather pretending of implementation) of corporate social responsibility policies - by cleaning the river Dnipro (one of the largest rivers in Ukraine), planting trees on the island nearby the city - island of Khortytsya and releasing around 20 thousand various types of fish in the river. These all look like a joke in comparison to what they do. Also the administration of the plant claims to invest in new and efficient ways to produce steel.
Development of alternatives:"The Coalition eco Zaporishya" listed the following demands:
1. To implement a comprehensive environmental monitoring system in Zaporizhya and the region, which shall include a system of automated monitoring, industrial monitoring of the region's enterprises, a mobile laboratory, a stationary laboratory and a single information system.
2. To reform the environmental inspection, the responsibilities of which shall include the investigation of the causes of increase in emissions and taking measures to reduce the amount of emissions. The inspection is expected to work 24/7.
3. To strengthen the responsibility for the violating the terms of realization of environmental measures by suspending the permits for emissions. Also to reconsider the methodology for calculating the amount of damages caused by the state as a result of excessive emissions into the atmosphere.
4. To regularly inform the population about levels of contamination and amount of emissions for each enterprise. Also to inform about those risks that arise as a result of exceeding of the maximum permissible concentration (concentration limits) of certain harmful substances and present necessary safety measures.
5. To reform the system of taxation of pollution, introduce a "polluter pays" principle, while not replacing the concept of environmental tax and environmental costs. To introduce a system of penalties for excessive emissions, to economically stimulate modernization of the production.
6. To provide certification of industrial activities in accordance with the standards of the EU Directives concerning the environment.
They also want to be able to do spontaneous visits to the plant, to be able to check how the ecological norms and procedures are being implemented
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Latent conflict has been going on for more than 3 years already (according to publication in media). Activists complain that for the past 3 years they only notice negative tendencies, such as: It became much more difficult to breathe( especially during the summer); summers became much hotter (it can get over 40 degrees heat); the administration of the city stopped informing the population about the level of pollution; the implementation of the rule that in order to come to the plant and check the activity one needs to firstly get an official permit from the administration of the plant.
Sources and Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

The website of the local administration of the Department of ecology and natural resources of Ukraine
[click to view]

[2] Evidences of asthma sickness
[click to view]

[1] Government webpage
[click to view]

Statistical data from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine with information that the amount of people in Zaporizhia who suffers from langue diseases is higher than average
[click to view]

[4] Eco-Forum 2017
[click to view]

[click to view]

The Coalition Eco Zaporizhia appeals to the government with listed demands on how the environmental situation in the city can be improved
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Coalition Eco Zaporizhia is having a forum-meeting to discuss environmental problems with some of the politicians
[click to view]

Other documents

[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lyudmyla Khrenova, [email protected]
Last update19/09/2017
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