By Nick Meynen
On July 27, 2012 Volodymyr Goncharenko gave a press conference revealing that 180 tons of dangerous chemical and radioactive industrial waste had arrived at the city of Kryvyi Rih (Dnipropetrovsk area) without control of local authorities and police. It was certainly not Goncharenko’s first revelation of corruption, mismanagement and its effects on the environmental health of citizens. But it did turn out to be his last one. Four days later he was brutally beaten, dying from his injuries in the hospital. Pavlo Khazan, a well-known green politician: “We collaborated with Volodymyr for 15 years in professional and public areas. The Ukrainian Green Party has no doubt that the murder was linked to his professional activities.”
Mr. Goncharenko was 57 and Chairman of a social movement “For the Rights of Citizens to Environmental Security”. In this video, Goncharenko openly speaks on the causes of serious environmental health problems in Ukraine and in this interview he is very critical of the quality controls on water used for drinking purposes. On Sunday about 200 people showed their respect to Vladimir at the offices of the Citizens for Environmental Safety, with many praising his bravery and conviction. The Ukrainian police have opened an investigation into the case, but Pavlo feels that to deliver justice in this case, much international attention and pressure will be needed.
The international community might pay more attention when it understands the global relevance of the issues Goncharenko bravely raised. According to Goncharenko, during the past several years, scavengers have removed from the Chernobyl exclusion zone 6 million metric tons of scrap metal that was subsequently smelted at metallurgical combines and reprocessed into new metal. While in theory each metallurgical combine should be equipped with radiation-monitoring equipment to check all incoming scrap, financial shortfalls have meant this was rarely the case. In 2007 Ukraine ranked eighth in global steel production and steel is Ukraine’s leading export. One can only guess how much radioactive scrap metal has ended up in exported steel.