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Lack of bulldozer operators and concrete installers prevents reconstruction of Kakhovka dam, Ukraine employers' association says

Kakhovka HPP before the explosion. (By Dziubak Volodymyr - CC BY-SA 4.0)

A severe shortage of bulldozer operators, mechanical fitters and other specialized workers will make it "difficult or impossible" to start reconstruction of the destroyed Kakhovka hydropower plant next year, according to research by the Confederation of Employers of Ukraine.

Mass conscription and mass migration have drained the regions around the dam of qualified workers and too few new workers are being trained, the confederation, which represents 8,000 companies employing almost 3 million people, said in an article on the website.

The confederation found only 27 bulldozer operators, 27 grader operators, 31 steel and reinforced concrete installers and 422 electricians had been trained in the last academic year in the regions surrounding the dam, including Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Odesa and Kherson. Together, those regions, known as "oblasts," have an estimated population of 5.7 million people and cover most of southern Ukraine.

"All of the listed specialists are needed for the restoration of water reservoirs, channel equipment, construction of hydroelectric power plant structures and equipment installation," the research says. "Taking into account the fact that in the macro-region it is necessary to restore not only hydroelectric power stations, but also dozens of cities and hundreds of villages, these specialists will most likely not be enough."

The destruction of the dam in June unleashed 18 cubic kilometers of water that washed out 290 kms of roads and damaged numerous industrial sites, villages and farms in the area. Besides the electricity generated from the plant, the reservoir was key in supplying water to area farms and villages.

"With a high degree of probability, we can say that Ukraine does not have a sufficient number of specialists to bring a water reservoir with an area of ​​2,155 square km (as much as 2.5 of the area of ​​Kyiv) and a coastline of 896 km (as from Lviv to Kharkiv), to rebuild hydroelectric power plants and reclamation canals with a length of 1.1 thousand kms," the study says.

Although no clear timeline has been given, the government is pushing ahead with plans to rebuild the 351 MW Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.

Earlier this week, state-owned hydro power producer Ukrhydroenergo said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian builder Aecon to take part in the rebuilding.

Last week, GE Vernova also signed an agreement to work on the Kakhovka plant, following similar agreements by Bechtel, Korea's K-Water and Turkey's Dogus Group in recent months.

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