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The destruction of the Kakhovka HPP caused Ukraine at least $2 billion in direct damages

The destruction of the Kakhovka HPP dam on June 6 stands as Russia’s largest act of ecocide amidst their full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This tragedy has severely damaged residential areas, communal infrastructure, and the energy sector. Furthermore, the consequences have extended to the agricultural industry, as the loss of irrigation in Ukraine’s southern regions has resulted in substantial indirect losses.

The destroyed Kakhovka HPP dam.
Photo: Kostiantyn Liberov & Vlada Liberova

The first analysis of the direct damages was conducted within the “Russia Will Pay” project of the KSE Institute in cooperation with the Office of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Economy, and the Ministry for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine.

First of all, direct damages from the flooding of private houses and related infrastructure are currently estimated at $950 million. A total of 80 settlements in the south of Ukraine were affected by flooding. In particular, over 500 private houses in rural areas have been flooded in the Mykolaiv region. In the Kherson region, it is impossible to determine the exact number of damaged or destroyed residential buildings as part of the region is temporarily occupied by Russia. However, preliminary estimates suggest that approximately 20,000 to 30,000 houses have been affected by flooding, including at least 150 multi-story buildings in Kherson.

An aerial view of the flooded city of Kherson. June 6, 2023.
Photo: Kostiantyn Liberov & Vlada Liberova

In addition, due to the decrease in the water level in the Kakhovka Reservoir, a significant part of the Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson regions may be left without water supply. In such a case, the construction of new water pipelines will be needed, which means extra expenses for Ukraine.

Total damages to the energy sector caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP amount to $624 million. These include the direct loss of the energy capacity of the dam, which was about 334,8 MW. Moreover, the annual economic losses of the state-owned company Ukrhydroenergo exceed $100 million. Nearly $1 billion will be needed to build the new hydroelectric power plant of the same capacity.

The damage caused to the transport infrastructure amounts to about $311 million. According to expert assessments, the flood has affected over 290 km of roads. The municipal roads were the most severely damaged, accounting for over 50% of the total length.

The Zhdanivskyi beach in Zaporizhzhia. Due to the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP, the water in the Dnipro River in this area has dropped down to a catastrophic level.
Photo: Andrii Dubchak

The industrial sector and other businesses have suffered about $105 million in damage due to the dam explosion. The local administration reported that 28 major industrial facilities on the right and left banks of the Dnipro River have been flooded. Damage to the crop plantations, livestock, and fish stocks has resulted in agricultural losses of $25 million. Furthermore, indirect losses for crop production are projected to increase by $182 million annually. Other industry sectors will be losing up to $49 million per year.

The estimated amount of losses caused to the environment is approximately $1,5 billion. Around 150 tons of oil leaked during the dam explosion. The salinity level of the Black Sea near Odesa is currently nearly three times lower than the norm.

Three nature reserves, namely “Nyzhnodniprovskyi”, “Kamianska Sich”, and “Biloberezhzhia Sviatoslava”, as well as the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve, protected by UNESCO, have suffered the consequences. In addition, the Regional Landscape Park “Kinburn Spit”, some sections of the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve, as well as the Regional Landscape Park “Vysunsko-Inhuletskyi” have been within the affected area.