Rats, Raditation and Remains

Kiev's 400 or so lakes and ponds have been condemned as places chock-a-block full of rodents, radioactive waste and rotten corpses, by some environmentalists and doctors in the city.

Anatoliy Yatsyk, a former chief of the city's Environmental Ministry, gave a stark warning as many people in the city, which often basks in scorching summers, limber up to take a dip in one of the city's lakes over the balmy months of July and August. He said:Well, you can swim if you want but your fingers may peel. No need for a chemical analysis, just have a look at it. Our fish are always ill and [I wonder] why we still dont have an endemic from what we eat, drink and where we swim. He added depressingly that the legacy of Chernobyl looms large and that some outlets such as the Dnipro reservoir will still be radioactive. The building of a proposed bridge over the reservoir would be a disaster as it would stir up the contaminated sludge and he predicted "the catastrophe will be worse than Chernobyl.

On top of the amount of crap - quite literally - that floods the pools and the lack of maintenance around the the mossy river banks which encourages rats and mice, this year has seen an increase in nasties such as leptospirosis - a disease caused by rodents. Bureaucrats have also been accused of not doing enough to deal with the problem - they haven't kept up with the challenge of shoring up eroding banks and in one area this has led to the riverbanks meeting an old cemetery with the sight of bones protruding through the ground. Victor Akimov, a chief sanitary doctor:You can see bones [hanging above the water]. Another cemetery has already sunk, and we drink this water. He pointed out that corpses from the 20s may have had anthrax or cholera, and the bacteria could still be potent.

The city's business parks do little to help the problem by routinely ignoring the stringent eco-standards of disposing of waste. In 2006 alone, 650 tons of petrochemicals, 12,000 tons of nitrogen and 67,000 tons of nitrates were dumped in the water, according to rough estimates of the institute of ecological problems.

With 60 per cent of the city's population - including businesses, hotels and restaurants using water from the Dnipro reservoir you may want want to stock up on plenty of bottled water if you're planning a trip anywhere close to the city.


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