Yurii Vilkul, “To protect the environmental rights of Kryvyi Rih residents, we do everything possible that depends on the city. However, changes and more effective steps at the level of state bodies are extremely necessary, and we have been insisting on f

The representative of the Ministry of Ecology visited Kryvyi Rih after numerous appeals by the municipality of Kryvyi Rih to the state authorities regarding the fair distribution of funds to solve environmental problems, and after the city authorities sued Arcelor Mittal Kryvyi Rih, whose emissions account for 85% of total emissions in the city. The appeal demanded that the company should comply with the terms of nature protection measures of the created City ecological program.

On July 20, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine for Digital Development, Digital Transformations and Digitization Ruslan Strelets conducted a working visit to Kryvyi Rih. Together with the mayor Yurii Vilkul, he visited the Kryvyi Rih department of the state ecological inspection.

Outlining the most pressing environmental problems of Kryvbas and specific ways to solve them, the mayor Yurii Vilkul said:

"We are well aware of the enormous pressure we have from industrial production. And this is, first of all, the health and life of people. We demand from industrial enterprises strict observance of a complex of nature protection measures of the City ecological program. I can say quite responsibly that everything, belonging to the competence of the city in solving environmental problems, is being fulfilled, even despite the limited financial resources that remain in the city. However, changes and more effective steps are needed at the legislative level. "

In 2019, the city's enterprises paid UAH 244 million for environmental tax, of which only UAH 61 million (25%) was actually allocated to the city's environmental protection fund, the only source of funding for urgent measures to address citywide environmental problems. In addition, from 2019, the state budget will include 100% environmental tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Last year, companies paid almost UAH 143 million for carbon dioxide emissions, but the city received nothing from this money.

Under the leadership of Mayor Yuriy Vilkul, draft laws were previously written and sent to the President of Ukraine and the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Nature Management, proposing amendments to the Tax and Budget Code city budget environmental tax in the amount of 50%, including - environmental tax for emissions of carbon dioxide.

Under the leadership of Mayor Yurii Vilkul, draft laws proposing amendments to the Tax and Budget Code were previously developed and submitted to the President of Ukraine and the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Nature Management. This provides for an increase in environmental tax rates by 1.5 times, revenues to the city budget of environmental tax in the amount of 50%, including - environmental tax for emissions of carbon dioxide.

“Justice for the Kryvyi Rih people must be restored. If our initiatives are supported by the parliamentary majority, the city will be able to use the funds to improve medical care for Kryvyi Rih residents and support health care facilities. However, today, the profile resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers prohibits the use of funds remaining from the environmental tax in the city for the medical sphere,”  Yurii Vilkul said.

If the proposed bills are adopted, revenues to the city's environmental fund will increase by almost five times - by UAH 227.7 million, namely from UAH 60 million to almost UAH 300 million. Secondly, it will provide an opportunity to finance urgent health care measures and improve medical care for the residents of Kryvyi Rih at the expense of the Environmental Protection Fund.

The head of the ecology department Svitlana Okhotnikova emphasized: “Since 2016, we have a municipal environmental program designed for 2025. This is the result of joint work of ecologists, scientists, public organizations, deputies, the Program envisages 178 events.  Air quality control is an important area of work. Over the years, we have managed to reduce emissions of harmful substances into the city's atmosphere by 32%.”

We have introduced and are now continuing to improve our environmental monitoring system. Currently, 28 automated posts have been installed and are operating in the city, of which 5 are in the city, 23 are at the industrial enterprises, which are installed on the border of sanitary protection zones.

These posts are open to residents, they can be viewed in the module "ECOMONITORING" on the official web portal "Kryvyi Rih Resource Center" (5-city and 13-enterprises). Last year PJSC “ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih” and PJSC “Kryvyi Rih Cement” joined the module.

However, by law, only state authorities with special control and supervision responsibilities have the right to take measures. Local governments do not have the right to conduct inspections, to close, to impose fines.

“Since 2017, together with the laboratory centre, the Department of Ecology, and public organizations, we have been measuring the state of the atmospheric air at the expense of the city budget for exceeding or not exceeding the permitted emission standards. All the facts that were recorded were 100% sent to both the prosecutor's office and the environmental inspectorate. Unfortunately, there was no reaction from the state bodies, which are obliged by law to take appropriate measures. The result of these appeals is the receipt of UAH 60,000 in the city environmental fund in 2019 and UAH 40,000 in the first half of the year 20 for losses caused by enterprises to the environment,” Svitlana Okhotnikova emphasized.

Kryvyi Rih is the only city in Ukraine where, on behalf of Mayor Yurii Vilkul, a comprehensive study was conducted concerning the impact of the largest industrial enterprises on the environment and the health of residents. Within the framework of the city environmental program in 2018-2019, an assessment was conducted concerning the degree of air pollution, identification and inventory of the main sources of pollutant emissions of PJSC “ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih” and JSC “Southern Mining Factory”.  Also, it covered mining and metallurgical enterprises, the central and northern parts of the city. Besides, it included risk assessments for the environment and health of Kryvyi Rih residents. For the first time in Ukraine, losses due to the cost of treatment of diseases associated with air pollution have been calculated.