Canadian Consulting Engineer

Identification of Pollution Sources in the Dnieper River Basin

October 1, 2005
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

In February 2000, the Global Environment Facility launched the Dnieper River Basin Project as part of its Black Sea Basin Regional Waters Project....

In February 2000, the Global Environment Facility launched the Dnieper River Basin Project as part of its Black Sea Basin Regional Waters Project.

The Dnieper River is one of three rivers that discharge their effluent into the Black Sea. Measuring 2,200 kilometres long, the Dnieper basin has large portions in the Ukraine, Belarus and southwestern Russia. It supports 40 million inhabitants and is recognized as being under severe ecological stress, being densely developed, with heavy industry, mining and intensive agriculture. One of the Global Environment Facility’s long-term goals is to reduce transboundary pollution.

As part of the above initiative the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) contracted SNC-Lavalin Engineers & Constructors of Toronto to lead an international team of experts to identify and prioritize sources of pollution in the basin. The UNIDO work was a starting point for a strategic action program.

The work done by the team led by SNC-Lavalin had three main outcomes. First, it developed an effective, efficient and practical methodology of screening for pollution “Hot Spots” on the Dnieper River along its entire length through Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea.


Second, the methodology was proven successful in use: it prioritized 20 hot spots in three countries from several thousand candidate sites. The methodology produced acceptable results in a reasonable time frame and avoided time-consuming detailed evaluations that may not have added significantly to the results.

Third, investment portfolios were compiled, based on technical and economic analyses, for the potential financing of rehabilitation and remediation measures of selected priority hot spots.

The project ended with a donors’ conference in Kiev where the results were presented to members of international financing organizations.

Three countries — one methodology

The UNIDO project team consisted of SNC-Lavalin and approximately 20 national experts in a variety of scientific and engineering disciplines. Their challenge was to balance the different scientific approaches and priorities used in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus and produce a workable methodology that could be agreed to and used by all parties. Previous attempts were either too cumbersome or the results were not sufficiently selective.

The team produced a simplified comparative analysis of dissimilar technical and scientific parameters from a wide variety of disciplines, including economics. The analysis was reasonable and balanced, resulting in one environmental indicator and leading to a fair appraisal of the various pollution hot spots relative to one another.

For the purpose of the project, hot spots were restricted to sources of pollution or contamination only. They fell under two distinct categories: hot spots subject to scoring — those that could be characterized quantitatively — and hot spots subject to qualitative description. The latter were qualitatively described in the National Pollution Reduction Reports/National Reviews.

Hot spots subject to scoring typically were direct discharge municipal and industrial point sources, but non-point sources such as large farms, contaminated farming, industrial areas and military bases were also subject to scoring if they could be “equated” to point sources with sufficient available data.

For preliminary screening, the “effective mass of contaminant,” methodology, based on the “toxic equivalent” concept, was adopted using the State Statistical Database. The methodology is effective for evaluating a wide variety of hot spots such as industrial sources and sewage treatment plants.

The hot spots yielding the highest “effective mass of contaminant” were promoted to Step 2 for more detailed evaluation.

As a result of the preliminary screening, a list of 130 enterprises was compiled as major polluters. These became the subject of the detailed assessment within the framework of the project. At this level, the methodology avoids subjective interpretations in favour of easily judged objective criteria. It draws on readily available data from a wide variety of scientific and engineering disciplines and economics in a simple system of weighting, leading to a score for each site. The weighting uses coefficients that allow for a fair comparison of effects from a variety of disparate sources and origins. The data provide surrogate indices of environmental impacts, avoiding the need to collect further specialized data for a screening process. The methodology is scientifically defensible (systematic, traceable, reproducible, transparent, rigorous and robust). It is easily modified and flexible enough for many situations and can be produced as a software, spreadsheet-based program. As such the methodology has a universal applicability and can be used by non-technical people to make initial evaluations of potentially polluting situations.

Ultimately, the project prioritized the hot spots to 20: five in Belarus, five in Russia and 10 in Ukraine. They included water treatment plants and industrial plants. Mitigation measures were proposed, including new treatment technologies, better operating procedures, new policies and legislation and management practices. Economic analyses of the proposed measures for the 20 selected hot spots were compiled as Priority Investment Portfolios.

Four of the priority hot spots were recommended for detailed technical and economic assessments. They were the Kiev Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Zaporizhzhya Aluminum Plant in the Ukraine, the Smolensk Wastewater Treatment Plant in Russia, and the Mozyr Oil Refinery in Belarus.

The successful approach was adopted and published by UNIDO as their methodology: “Identification, assessment and prioritization of Pollution Hot Spots.”

Name of project: Identification and analysis of Sources of Pollution (Hot Spots), Dnieper River Basin, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia

Award-winning firm: SNC-Lavalin Engineers & Constructors, Toronto (John Payne, P.Eng., Evgeniy Dobrovolsky, Edward Lloyd, P.Eng., Mart Lupp, P.Eng., Derek Elion, P.Eng., Reinhard Kargel, P.Eng., Winnie Ko)

Owner & client: United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)


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