Kick­ing up a stink: Ukraine’s Lviv blighted by trash cri­sis

Mayor blames cri­sis on garbage block­ade

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Ukraine’s west­ern city of Lviv is fa­mous for its pic­ture-post­card grace­ful domes and cob­ble­stone streets but it’s not such a pretty sight in the back al­leys, which are blighted by grow­ing moun­tains of garbage. Waste has not been re­moved from some neigh­bor­hoods in the city of 700,000 peo­ple since May, with the stench scar­ing off tourists and a rat in­fes­ta­tion threat­en­ing pub­lic health. The trash piles have built up due to an ap­par­ent po­lit­i­cal im­passe be­tween the Ukrainian govern­ment and the au­thor­i­ties in the city, ar­guably the most Euro­pean-look­ing in the post-Soviet na­tion.

Kiev ac­cuses Lviv’s mayor of fail­ing to han­dle waste man­age­ment but the mayor blames the cri­sis on a “garbage block­ade”. Last month, lo­cals took ac­tion into their own hands, block­ing city streets to protest about the sit­u­a­tion, with some even set­ting fire to the mounds of waste. Lviv res­i­dent Mariya Sy­dorovych, 58, said that de­spite sum­mer heat of more than 30 de­grees Cel­sius she does not dare open the win­dows. “It’s just an in­de­scrib­able stink. Some rub­bish piles have reached the level of the sec­ond floor,” she said.

“We have garbage cans near the play­ground. Chil­dren have not been play­ing there for weeks, be­cause they can­not stand it.” Doc­tors share res­i­dents’ con­cerns about the pos­si­ble de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the health of the city’s in­hab­i­tants. “If we do not en­sure re­moval of garbage from Lviv in time, we could face dan­ger­ous con­se­quences for the health of Lviv res­i­dents,” Volodymyr Zub, the city coun­cil’s health de­part­ment chief, said.

“Such a sit­u­a­tion can lead to fre­quent and pro­longed out­breaks of in­testi­nal in­fec­tions. Un­der such con­di­tions, the num­ber of ro­dents that are car­ri­ers of dan­ger­ous dis­eases may in­crease.” While many lo­cals ac­cuse city au­thor­i­ties of caus­ing the cri­sis, Lviv mayor An­driy Sadovyi said that it was im­pos­si­ble to move the rub­bish out of the city be­cause of a “garbage block­ade”.

Mis­man­age­ment or pol­i­tics?

He said the prob­lem started in May 2016 when the main land­fill for Lviv’s waste caught fire and four fire­fight­ers died, prompt­ing state au­thor­i­ties to shut down the site. “But since then we have a prob­lem of where to move our 600 tons of garbage daily,” 48-year-old be­spec­ta­cled Sadovyi lamented. “With 5,500 land­fills in Ukraine, I thought that we would be able to solve the prob­lem but all these land­fills be­gan to close to my city one af­ter an­other.”

The em­bat­tled mayor went fur­ther, ac­cus­ing the govern­ment of pres­sur­ing land­fill own­ers across the coun­try not to ac­cept refuse from Lviv in or­der to dis­credit him not just as mayor, but also as leader of the Samopomich po­lit­i­cal party. Sadovyi was once an ally of Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko but Samopomich (Self-Re­liance) left the pres­i­dent’s rul­ing coali­tion bloc last year, join­ing the op­po­si­tion. “The rea­son (for the block­ade) is that we pre­vent the au­thor­i­ties from re­al­iz­ing un­demo­cratic plans,” Sadovyi said.

“This is a po­lit­i­cal is­sue more than eco­nomic,” Vadym Karasyov, the head of Kiev-based In­sti­tute of Global Strate­gies, said. “If Sadovyi did not pre­tend to be a politi­cian of na­tional scale the prob­lem would be re­solved much faster.” With Sadovyi and cen­tral au­thor­i­ties locked in a war of words, the Kiev govern­ment has re­jected claims of a block­ade, say­ing Lviv city hall is at the root of the waste dilemma.

The con­flict reached a new level last month as three law­mak­ers from Sadovyi’s party went on a six-day hunger strike to put more pres­sure on Kiev to solve the prob­lem. That pushed Prime Min­is­ter Volodymyr Groys­man to urge the coun­try’s mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties to help the west­ern city by ac­cept­ing the city’s garbage at their land­fill sites. Groys­man said the govern­ment was will­ing to al­lo­cate 50 mil­lion hryv­nias ($1.9 mil­lion, 1.7 mil­lion euros) for con­struc­tion of a new land­fill in the Lviv re­gion.—AFP

UKRAINE: A woman throws rub­bish to a pile of garbage in the west­ern Ukrainian city of Lviv.—AFP

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