Ukraine calls for sound and joint decision on E40 waterway

The Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure requests a joint decision among the governments of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, if the E40 waterway project is to be implemented. This needs to be based on sound economic and environmental assessments. The Ukrainian authority stated this in a letter sent to the Save Polesia partner NECU as response to their invitation to participate in a media event about the threats of the planned E40 waterway.

Accordingly, the Polish section of the shipping route is key to the E40 waterway project: ‘without the willingness to plan and the possibility of implementing measures by Polish colleagues, progress in the project is not economically feasible.’ The letter outlines not only the immense costs of constructing the waterway in Poland, but also the disastrous environmental impacts this would have. Dried out wetlands, and as a result increased drought periods, is only one devastating impact mentioned. The proposed waterway in Poland would also drain local groundwater in many sections and could have severe negative consequences for local agriculture, households, as well as on key habitats and globally threatened species.

Although not mentioned by the Ukrainian Ministry, the E40 waterway project would not only cause an environmental disaster in Poland, but also in Ukraine and Belarus – and in fact in Europe’s greatest intact wetland wilderness. Despite this bleak outlook, national governments are progressing the E40 waterway project step by step. Contrary to the statement from the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure, there exists evidence that one of Europe’s most pristine rivers, the Pripyat, has been dredged as part of the E40 waterway in Ukraine’s Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – the most contaminated area of the world.

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* Top image shows the Prypiat-Stokhid National Park in Ukrainian Polesia © Daniel Rosengren / FZS