© AFP Photo / Alexander Khudoteply
Employees of Ukrainian Emergency Ministry carry a barrel containing highly toxic waste during the removal of waste containers from the former Soviet military chemical plant in Gorlovka, an industrial city in the Donetsk region.
Millions of people will be affected if shelling of the village of Gorlovka by the Ukrainian army leads to leaks at local chemical plants, experts warn, adding that the toxic clouds are also capable of spreading around the world.
A spokesman for Ukraine's largest chemical plant, Stirol, made headlines on Monday after releasing a video appeal, in which he said that "irresponsible actions" by the military, who are fighting the anti-Kiev rebels in the area, may cause a massive ecological disaster.
But there's another large chemical facility in Gorlovka, which is likely to drastically increase the scale of the catastrophe if its hit by Ukrainian shells, Viktoria Polyakova, chairman of the Ukrainian ecological NGO Deko-Vita, told RT's Russian service.
The removal of hazardous materials from the Gorlovka Sate Chemical Plant, which is situated just a couple of kilometers away from the Stirol facilities, has been halted for a long time now due to military action, she said.
According to Polyakova, the Gorlovka Sate Chemical Plant was in disastrous condition even before the fighting broke in the Donetsk Region this spring.
The working lifespan of the protective structures at the plant has expired long ago and the slightest damage will result in the release of toxic substances from the storages, she said.
"There are a lot of dangerous substances there: TNT and sulfates, totaling around 300,000 tons, which are lying around in the open air. There are also 11,600 types of different poisonous and highly dangerous substances in the repository and they pollute the soil. The service life of these storages expired back in 1998," the ecologists said.