The Nova Kahowka Dam in Ukraine, which was reportedly blown up in the early hours of June 6 (local time), is an infrastructure on the Dnipro River that connects the southern Zaporizhia region, home to a nuclear power plant, with the heavily contested Kherson region.
The dam was built in 1965 during the Soviet Union as part of the Kahowka hydroelectric power plant.
The 30-meter-high, 3.2-kilometer-long Kahouka Dam creates a 2,155-square-kilometer lake that stretches across Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts. It holds 18 cubic kilometers of water, equivalent to the Great Salt Lake in the United States and 6.7 times the volume of Chungju Lake in South Korea (2.75 billion tons).
As the lowest of the six dams on the Dnieper River, the dam is bound to have a significant impact on several key locations along the river.
When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Ukraine blocked the Nova Kahouka aqueduct, causing a drinking water crisis in Crimea. Russian forces reopened the waterway when they invaded Ukraine last year, but without the Kahowka Dam to regulate flows, the crisis could return.
Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia NPP, about 160 kilometers north of the dam, also relies on the Kahowka Dam for cooling water.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the dam explosion did not pose an immediate radiation risk to Zaporizhzhia, but there are no guarantees of safety in the event of a major meltdown.
Because of its strategic importance, the Kahowka dam has been a frequent target of potential attack since the start of the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed in October of last year, at the height of the battle to retake Kherson, that Russia could destroy the dam. Russia countered that Ukrainian forces had shelled the dam during the offensive to retake Kherson.
The water level at the Kahowka Dam had been rising since April of this year due to heavy rainfall and snowmelt in the region. On some days, it has risen as much as 30 centimeters a day. Russian energy officials said last month that the dam may not hold due to record water levels, while Ukrainian authorities blame the Russian occupation of Kahowka for the rising river levels.
According to reports from the Associated Press, Reuters and the British newspaper The Guardian, photos circulated on social media this morning showing a massive crack in the Kahowka dam and the river overflowing toward Kherson.
It remains unclear who attacked the dam, the exact scale of the destruction, and the extent of the damage. Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of committing “terrorism.
The head of the military administration, Oleksandr Prokudin Kherson메이저사이트, told Ukrainian media that eight villages had been completely flooded and that more could be affected.
Ukrainian authorities said 16,000 nearby residents were in a “danger zone” and ordered evacuations and were transporting them by bus and train.
His Russian counterpart, Vladimir Leontyev, mayor of Nova Kahowka, said the upper part of the dam had been destroyed by shells and that the reservoir itself had not collapsed.
The dam explosion put 22,000 people in 14 villages in the Kherson region at risk of flooding, Russian state media reported.