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Reopening of the Danube-Black Sea deep-water navigable waterway

     SOURCE:www.turismdelta.ro1. Throughout the ages the Danube waterway has played a crucial role in the transport infrastructure of Central and Eastern European countries, serving as a transportation artery between Central Europe and the Black Sea. This role has been recognized with the Danube's status as one of the top ten pan-European corridors. According to the conclusions of the European Commission, the Danube waterway along with the Rhine is the most important component of the inland transport market in Europe.
     2. The benefits of the Danube waterway for the harmonious economic and social development of the region can be realized only on the basis of principles of equal access and equal opportunities. These principles have been pivotal in the international legal regime of the use of the Danube, established in the Belgrade Convention and other relevant international legal instruments. Equally important are the obligations of the participating states to preserve the environmental integrity of the river basin, and to co-operate with each other in achieving this goal.

    SOURCE:'Viata Libera' newspaper 3. Until the late 1950s, Ukraine used three navigable waterways in the Danube delta: the branches of the Bystroe, Ochakiv and Prorva estuaries. The available archive data, in particular, confines the commercial use of the Chilia waterway since 1830.
    In 1959, the exploitation of the Bystre waterway ceased due to natural processes of waterway silting.
    In 1994, the same situation took place at the Prorva waterway. As a result, the Ukrainian part of the VII pan-European transportation corridor became non-operational. Until now the traditional transportation flows have been diverted to their neighboring Romanian waterways. This situation resulted in significant deterioration of the competitive position of the Ukrainian inland transport companies operating there. The operations of the port infrastructure (the ports of Ismail, Reni, Chilia and Ust-Dunajsk) were brought to a standstill, putting enormous pressure on the local economy and society.
    4. The exclusion of Ukraine from the Danube transportation corridor might have a general adverse impact on the prospects of developing Europe-Asia transport networks, in particular, the possibilities of connecting the VII transport corridor with the TRASECA transport corridor "Black Sea -Caucasus -Central Asia" which has a transportation potential estimated by the EU experts at a level approaching 20 million tons of cargo per year. Such impact is even less desirable when one takes into consideration the potential of Ukrainian shipping companies at the Danube which comprise almost 24,1% of commercial shipping along the Danube.
    5. According to the feasibility study conducted in 2003, the reopening of Ukraine's Danube-Black Sea navigable waterway will increase the volume of inland shipping by 60-80 per cent and create an additional 4,230 jobs.

    6. The construction necessary for restoring the navigable waterway is conducted according to the feasibility study and the business plan, prepared with participation of international experts and endorsed by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on 12 May 1004.
    7. According to the plan, the dredging activities are carried out in the bar and along several river rifts, situated at the following points: 73- 74th kilometers, 69- 70, 67-68, 64-66, 61-63, 52-53, 47-49, 35-38, 31-32, 28-29, 24-25 and the 11th kilometer. The general volume of works constitutes 1726 thousand cubic meters on the river section and 1 683 thousand cubic meters at the bar.
    8. The route of the waterway consists of the following four sections:
        -the seaward canal and the encompassing dam;
        -the section of the sea - Vilkovo;
        -section Vilkovo - Ismail Chatal;
        -section Ismail Chatal - Reni.
    9. THE SEAWARD CANAL with a length of 3 km will have a projected bottom width of 100 m and depth of 7.65 m. The slope ratio of the canal will be 1:9. The curve of the seaward canal will have a 2000 m radius. The direction of the seaward canal route is planned at 126,07 -306,07. The canal will operate running in a single-direction.
    10. The purpose of the encompassing dam at the sea section of the waterway is to protect the canal against coastal current silting as well as serving as a breakwater. The project envisages a trapezoidal type of dam with a slope index of 1:3 and a top width of 3 m. The stone facing has a diameter of 300 mm with a 400-800 mm coating at the external wave-facing slope.
    11. THE SEA - VILKOVO WATERWAY SECTION (1.534 km -20.585 km) will have a bottom width of 60 m (single-direction section of 1.534 km -10.000 km) and 120 m(double-direction section of 10.000 km -20.585 km) with slope ratio of 1:6. The radii of its curves will be 1000 m and more, except for a curve radius of 800 m at the entrance to the Bystry arm from the Old-Stambul arm. At this section the rift at the entrance to the Bystry arm should be removed.
    12. THE VILKOVO - ISMAIL CHATAL DOUBLE-DIRECTION WATERWAY SECTION (20.585 km - 116.000 km) will have a bottom width of 120 m with a slope ratio 1:6, and curve radii of 1000 m. At this section 11 rifts have to be removed at 73-74, 69-70, 67- 68,64-66,61-63,52-53,47-49,35-38,31-32,28-29 and 24-25 km. The storage of the excavated soil is planned for specially designed burrows of 2-3 m height which will be subsequently used as flood-prevention dams on the Ukrainian bank, as well as for the repair of damaged dams.
    13. THE ISMAIL CHATAL - RENI section currently completely meets the shipping safety requirements and will not be dredged.
     14. Considering the proximity of the existing parameters of the river arm to the technological requirements of the waterway, the volume of excavating work is expected to be marginal, thus ensuring minimal impact on environment.
     15. The exhausts from construction vehicles will be short-term and localized. Fixed sources of exhaust during the period of the excavation works, as well as its operation will be non-existent.
     16. Considering the temporary nature of the dredging works, as well as absence of fixed sources of exhaust, a sanitary protection zone along the waterway is deemed unnecessary.
     17. The required lessening of the low-altitude concentration of the main polluting agent -nitrogen dioxide-during the excavation activities will be achieved by the deconcentration of construction vehicles and power distribution management, as well as the management of the mechanization work simultaneity ratio. In the case of unfavourable weather conditions, the engine-driven works will be suspended.
     18. The use of dredging equipment and the assisting fleet will be continuously controlled by the observance of national exhaust pollution standards DST 24585- 81 and DST -24028-80.
     19. With the half-width of the waterway and the accompanying water channels of 50m the noise pollution at the riparian zone will not exceed 55 dBa.
    20. The general contractor, the German company "Josef Mobius Bau A.G.", will utilize the following dredging equipment:
        .sea mobile dredger Josef Mobius;
        .fixed dredger M30;
        .pontoons MS57, MS58 with excavator Kohmatsu 3S340-1;
        .pontoons MS49 with excavator Kohmatsu PS240-1,
        .pontoons MP25 with excavator Libcher 974, CA T365 and CAT 325,
        .passenger cutter "Gasel";
        .two towboats, five pipe-connecting pontoons, five floating pipes for pulp.
    It will be assisted by the following Ukrainian dredging companies:
         ."Chorazmorshlach", employing two mobile dredgers and one multi-bucketed caravan;
         ."Chomomortechflot", employing one mobile dredger and one multi-bucketed caravan;
        ."Aquatoria-Jug", employing one multi-bucketed caravan.
     21. The dredging works commenced on May 12, 2004. The construction of the dam commenced on 5 July 2004.
     22. The dredging of the river section was scheduled to start on 5 July 2004.
    According to the plan, the excavated soil will be dumped at the coastal dumping sites of the Kilija delta as material to support the flood-prevention dams.
    23. The route of the Danube-Black Sea navigation waterway was chosen after thorough
    consideration and public debates. Thus, the feasibility study analyzed 10 possible routes of the deepwater navigable waterway.
    24. These options were divided into two groups based on the type of waterway:
    Group A -routes using the natural branches of the dynamic part of the Danube delta;
    Group B -artificial canals with constructed locks.
    25. According to the study, the most promising projects are: the Bystre branch in Group A and a sluiced canal linking the Solomonov Rukav branch of the Danube with the Zhebryanskaya Bay in Group B.
    26. The advantages of the Bystre branch option are as follows: a low-meandering branch with sufficient natural depth, low rate of growth of the delta, a 950 m radius of the entrance from the Starostambulske branch, and the possibility of creating a port in the mouth of the branch. Its disadvantages are: the need for bank consolidation in three sections and the single-direction flow of the route along the 13-km sector.
    27. The advantage of the sluiced canal linking the Solomonov Rukav branch of the Danube with the Zhebryanskaya Bay option is its location outside the dynamic area of the delta. Its disadvantages are: a large volume of ground that needs to be removed and dumped (over 16 million m3), the allocation of about 900 hectares for the construction of the canal, the clearing of forests, the construction of bridges allowing the passage of sea vessels, and a considerable environmental impact including the impact on the Zhebryanskaya strand.
    28. The analysis of the environmental impact of both options of the waterway demonstrated that the major share of the impact -both during waterway construction and its operation -would be determined by the volume of the excavated soil and the allocated areas. The ratios of removed soil are 1:50 and areas allocated are 1:135 in favor of the Bystre branch option.
    29. The implementation of the sluiced canal linking the Solomonov Rukav branch of the Danube with the Zhebryanskaya bay option would also lead to the loss of over 500 hectares of land in the buffer and transition zones of the Danube Biosphere Reserve. The implementation of this option was viewed as unacceptable because of the considerable adverse impact on the Danube Biosphere Reserve.
    30. The major drawbacks of the sluiced canal linking the Solomonov Rukav branch of the Danube with the Zhebryanskaya bay option are: large-scale changes of the water regime at the Zhebryanskaya spits and Zhebryanski wetlands; a possible destabilization and imbalance of the water flow as a result of the creation of an artificial water object which would affect internal processes in the Zhebryanskaya bay; degradation of water quality in the bay due to dredging in the course of construction and the operation of the canal; pollution of the water and the seabed of the Black Sea in the area of soil dumping.
    31. The waterway of the Bystre branch goes along the riverbed and requires a considerably smaller intrusion into the environment, including water environment. This is due to the lack of necessity of dredging and bank consolidation in the segment crossing the reserved territory -the navigation markers will be placed in the water. The major possible adverse impact resulting from implementing this option is the opening of the sandbar of the Bystre branch. However, taking into account the considerable current of the branch and the free water exchange in the nearby coastal area, the water quality would be less affected than in the Zhebryanskaya bay. It is expected that the pollution of water and the seabed in the area of soil dumping will be smaller due to the smaller volume of soil to be excavated and dumped.
    32. Therefore, the Bystre branch results to be the optimal solution both from the economic and environmental points of view. Currently, its width and insignificant malleability fully meet the technical requirements of reopening the deepwater navigable waterway.
    33. This option has also a number of other advantages, namely:
        -the slowest advancement of the marine edge of the delta;
        -a consistent increase in the river run-off of the Chilia Delta which flows the Bystre branch;
        -the improvement of the main mass of detritus drainage from the Bystre branch beyond the coastline;
        -a comparatively fast increase of the sea depth beyond the bar.
    34. A possible adverse impacts on the flora and fauna will be minimized by the following technical solutions:
        1) The creation of special engineering installations at the site of the separation of currents between the Bystre and Starostambulske branches, will enable the regulation of water flow in the Bystre Gyrlo and prevent the acceleration of the gradual natural disappearance of the northern branches of the delta;
        2) The optimal placement of protective dams along the seaward canal will slow down the possible transformation of the newly formed Ptichya spit to the south of the sandbar of the Bystre branch;
        3) The limitation of vessel speed along the waterway will prevent possible erosion of banks along the Bystre branch.
    35. The biotic groups in the Bystre branch, including rare species and associations are not unique for the Danube Biosphere Reserve; they are widely found in other parts of its territory. Some local evolution of plant associations and the limited migration of animals from the branch and its banks are possible due to the creation and use of the waterway and should pose no threat to the preservation of the biological diversity of the Reserve, in particular to the habitats of its most rare and valuable animals and plants.
up                    POSSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT                      next

    36. The environmental assessment of the reopening of the navigable waterway shows that the envisioned environmental measures will ensure marginal impact on the environment which will be limited to the territories of the banks of the Bystre branch.
    37. According to evaluations of the experts from Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University and the Ukrainian Center for Land and Resourse Management, the Bystre branch option is preferable from an ecologic point of view because its implementation would result in lesser environmental impact than the construction of the sluiced canal option linking the Solomonov branch of the Danube with the Zhebryanskaya Bay.
    38. The reopening of the waterway within the given parameters will have a certain environmental impact, although to a lesser degree when compared with other waterway options. In particular, it may lead to the reduction of the population of local swamp avifauna.
    39. The waterway reopening activities envisage a number of measures aimed at minimizing the adverse environmental impact, namely:
        a) the construction of the encompassing dam in the area of seaward canal will limit the spread of vessel-caused waves;
        b) the construction of current-directing dam in the area of the divergence of Bystre and Starostambulske branches, as well as deepening of the riverbed of the Starostambulske branch below the divergence point will prevent erosion of the Bystre banks;
        c) the limitation of vessel speed along the seaward canal and the Bystre branch will considerably reduce adverse wave impact;
        d) artificial afforestation of the riverbed banks prone to erosion and
        e) storage of the soil along the Chilia branch only in areas previously damaged during the artificial damming and the subsequent use of this soil for dam repair.
    40. The first stage of the reopening activities envisages only the partial implementation of these measures. Following the results of the monitoring of their consequences further works and parameters of necessary structures will be determined.
    41. The reopening activities can also affect the local ichthyofauna due to changes of the hydromorphic parameters in the zone of the bar of the Bystre branch. These changes can lead to disturbances in fish migration routes and their spawing conditions. In particular, the deepening of the Bystre branch may cause the penetration of salt water into the branch which will affect the freshwater ichthyofauna.
    42. To minimize this impact, the project envisages deconcentration of the dredgers along the route of the waterway, suspension of work during spawning and the environmentally friendly selection of the soil sea-storage site.
    43. The basic factor influencing the fauna of other vertebrates is the disturbance during the construction of deepwater passages and in the process of ship passage. The prohibition of works in the zone of Bystre branch bar during the nesting season is necessary with a view of decreasing this adverse impact. Navigation rules will prohibit sound signals and music broadcasting during ship passage along the Bystre branch.
    44. The project provides significant financial compensation in the amount of 2.457.000,00 UAH in case of damage caused to the ground flora and fauna that could be prevented by environmental measures. This sum will be directed to the maintenance of the Reserve and scientific research on the new DBR territories.
    45. The project also provides for financial compensation for damage afflicted to the fish industry near construction sites in the amount of 720.320,00 UAH and in the places of sea dumping -461.330,00 UAH. After the opening of the waterway, the annual amount of compensation for damage caused by the sea dumping is established at 280.320,00 UAH. This amount must be directed firstly to the protection and environmental recuperation of the Black Sea and Azov Sea, including restoration of the fish escapement.
    46. Also compensation for the damage from the deterioration of water quality due to dredging and the dumping during construction is provided in the amount of 52.844,00 UAH and 58.120,00 UAH. After the opening of the waterway this sum will be 9767 and 21720 gryvnas.
    47. It should be mention that the study of possible damages to the environment, based on greatly hypothetical estimates of the compensation payments, was calculated for the pessimistic scenario of adverse impact of the reopening of the waterway. Taking into account protective and security measures, any real damage can be prevented in many respects. In any case, the money appropriations made available would be used for the DBR development and improvement of the environment.
    48. In view of the urgent need to reopen the waterway and the exceptional ecological value of the surrounding territory, the decision was made to proceed with reopening activities in two stages. The first stage is of experimental nature. The parameters of the vessel passage during the first stage provide draught restrictions of 5,85 metres, which will diminish the extent of the dredging and hydrotechnical works and, accordingly, will reduce the environmental impact. According to the environment monitoring programme for this period, a large amount of examination and scientific research is to be carried out with a view to specify the prognoses of possible adverse ecological impact of the reopening and operation of the waterway, as well as in order to define the environmental measures to be taken at the stage of its overall development.

    49. According to the Ukrainian legislation, the environmental impact, including in the transboundary context, of the implementation of any project is to be determined by the national expertise of the environmental impact assessment materials, which are to be attached to the project documentation. Such national expertise was undertaken within the project preparation and attached to its materials. The results of the expertise do not confirm the possibility of ADVERSE TRANSBOUNDARY ENVIRONMENTAL impact on the territories of the neighboring states.
    50. Therefore, no additional transboundary environmental impact assessment study foreseen by the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context would be needed.
    51. This view is also endorsed by a report from the Institute of hydromechanics of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine regarding scientific and research activities in the Course of optimization of the technical decisions affecting the course and bar area of the deepwater waterway. According to it "the reopening of the deepwater WAY on the river and mouth bars will not cause the essential flow reforming, except for the inessential increase of the water waste across the mouth from the secondary branches.(It does not concern the territory of Romania because the Sulina and the Georgiev branches can hardly be considered as "secondary branches"). This means that the waste of water in the Ochakiv mouth will be diminished by 4%. It is expected that construction of the waterway through the Bystre bar (Novostambulsk branch) will cause reductions in the flow on the Ochakiv branch at the rate 220 M3/C, the waste of the branch Staryj Stambul will not be changed. Thus, the creation of the first stage of the navigable waterway will not inflict any damage to the Starostambulsk branch boundary.

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