Kronospan

Kronospan

In the village of Horodok near the city of Rivne in Ukraine, Technopryvid Invest Group LLC which is owned by LLC “Kronospan UA”, plans to build a factory for the manufacture of chipboard and similar products. A big chemical plant, Rivneazot, as well as other factories are located just a few kilometers from the construction site.

Kronospan  is an Austrian group of companies (partly held through Kronospan Holdings Limited based in Cyprus), whose subsidiaries mainly produce and sell wood-based building materials, such as chipboard or laminates. The owners and managers of Kronospan are the fifth generation of the Kaindl family, one of the most successful business families in Austria. According to the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation in Salzburg, Kronospan is the world’s largest manufacturer of chipboard. Kronospan claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-based cladding elements. Kronospan operates a total of 40 plants in Europe and also has factories in Asia and North America. 

The only existing Kronospan plant in Ukraine was built at Novovolynsk in Volyn region in 2004
Picture source: Bug.org.ua

Kronospan has been criticized for its business practices and the pollution provoked by the  emissions from many of its factories. In June 2018, the British NGO, Earthsight published a comprehensive report on illegal logging and widespread corruption in the Ukrainian forestry sector. It also highlighted the fact that several major European wood-processing companies imported illegally harvested timber from Ukraine, thus clearly making them complicit in this corruption. One of the companies highlighted is Kronospan. The report indicates that Kronospan has continued to purchase large volumes of timber from Ukrainian State Forestry Enterprises whose top officials are the subject of ongoing criminal corruption probes. This received widespread coverage in the Ukrainian press, for example in the Kyiv Post.

On 16 July 2019 the Rivne Oblast Department for Environmental Protection and Natural Resources published a notice about the planned construction by “Technopryvid Invest Group” which is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The project “Transformation of the  industrial compound into a wood-processing factory at Barona Shteinghelia 4a str., Horodok Village, Rivne Rayon, Rivne Oblast” is registered under No. 20198144297

This announcement caused considerable worry among the population of Horodok village, because wood-processing plants are known for causing air pollution harmful for health and the  environment. Local citizens joined together and registered themselves as an initiative group. They also sought the support of the NGO Ecoclub.

Ecoclub has analyzed the report on EIA. According to the report, background concentration of formaldehyde in Horodok is already 4,6 times the safety levels, while that of benzene is already 10 times. If the factory starts operation, the average annual concentration of formaldehyde will be 5,62 times the permitted safety level. Citizens of Horodok and neighboring villages will suffer health impacts from pollutants and the environment will be damaged. 

Ecoclub team together with local activists at the court hearing against their NGO, submitted by Kronospan on 25.06.2020.
Photo source: Ecoclub

Ecoclub sent the conclusions to the Department and published them on its web-page here and here. In February Kronospan started legal action against Ecoclub, calling on it to withdraw the above-mentioned facts and demanding a compensation of 150 000 UAH (5000 EUR approx.) due to the injury caused to its reputation. 

The widespread opposition of local residents and of Ecoclub to the factory construction plans is also due to its close proximity (400 meters) to residents’ houses with no compensation being provided. They also criticize the lack of credible information about the actual state of the environment and the lack of an independent expert analysis of the project. 

The following actions are necessary to ensure a fair implementation of the project:

  • Independent expert analysis of the EIA report. Ecoclub has made significant efforts to identify experts or institutions capable of performing the task but even the involvement of the Ministry for Energy and Environment has not led even one such expert being appointed.
  • Independent assessment of the сonsequences of the Kronospan factory’s operation in Novovolynsk, Volyn Oblast, Ukraine.
  • Ensuring independent monitoring of air quality in Horodok village by installing a fixed monitoring post and automated monitoring equipment on emission sources.

Implementation of these measures would require external resources and expert support. Ecoclub has made an appeal for support, calling on NGOs and individuals to send letters to the Ukrainian government with a request to stop this project.

There is a great need for reform of environmental protection structures in Ukraine in order to prevent unjustified and environmentally threatening decisions. In particular, it is necessary to: 

  • increase the independence of the departments of ecology and natural resources by making them responsible to the Ministry of Energy and Environment.
  • link Ukraine to the European Environmental Agency’s environmental monitoring system (which automatically means fulfilling all its requirements).

The construction of the plant in Horodok by Kronospan is one of the most awaited investments in Ukraine in the near future. Ensuring that environmental concerns are taken into account during implementation of the project could become a turning point and an example for others. Ecoclub will therefore continue its efforts to uphold justice. Influential local businesses are interested in cooperation with Kronospan due to potential profits. There is a strong risk that they will put pressure on the relevant authorities and also sign shady illegal deals with Kronospan. As a result, Ecoclub is concerned for the safety of its staff. 

Annex 1 Letter of Ecoclub to Department, out Ref #23 from 05.02.2020

Annex 2 Letter of Ecoclub to Department, out Ref #17 from 15.01.2020

*Legislation

  • Hygienic regulations “Limit concentrations of chemical and biological substances in the ambient air of settlements” adopted by decree #52 of Ministry of Health of Ukraine on January 14 2020 (Registered in Ministry of justice on February 10 under Ref No 156/34439).
  • State sanitary rules on protection of the ambient air in settlements (from pollution by chemical and biological substances) (DSP-201-97) adopted by the decree # 201 of Ministry  of Health of Ukraine form July 9 1997 (confirmed by Ministry for environmental protection and nuclear safety of Ukraine on March 18 1996, #11-4-279 and by State Committee of hydrometeorology on December 12, 1995 # K-2-822). 

Ecoclub sent the conclusions to the Department and published them on its web-page here and here. In February Kronospan started legal action against Ecoclub, calling on it to withdraw the above-mentioned facts and demanding a compensation of 150 000 UAH (5000 EUR approx.) due to the injury caused to its reputation. 

The widespread opposition of local residents and of Ecoclub to the factory construction plans is also due to its close proximity (400 meters) to residents’ houses with no compensation being provided. They also criticize the lack of credible information about the actual state of the environment and the lack of an independent expert analysis of the project. 

The following actions are necessary to ensure a fair implementation of the project:

  • Independent expert analysis of the EIA report. Ecoclub has made significant efforts to identify experts or institutions capable of performing the task but even the involvement of the Ministry for Energy and Environment has not led even one such expert being appointed.
  • Independent assessment of the сonsequences of the Kronospan factory’s operation in Novovolynsk, Volyn Oblast, Ukraine.
  • Ensuring independent monitoring of air quality in Horodok village by installing a fixed monitoring post and automated monitoring equipment on emission sources.

Implementation of these measures would require external resources and expert support. Ecoclub has made an appeal for support, calling on NGOs and individuals to send letters to the Ukrainian government with a request to stop this project.

There is a great need for reform of environmental protection structures in Ukraine in order to prevent unjustified and environmentally threatening decisions. In particular, it is necessary to: 

  • increase the independence of the departments of ecology and natural resources by making them responsible to the Ministry of Energy and Environment.
  • link Ukraine to the European Environmental Agency’s environmental monitoring system (which automatically means fulfilling all its requirements).

The construction of the plant in Horodok by Kronospan is one of the most awaited investments in Ukraine in the near future. Ensuring that environmental concerns are taken into account during implementation of the project could become a turning point and an example for others. Ecoclub will therefore continue its efforts to uphold justice. Influential local businesses are interested in cooperation with Kronospan due to potential profits. There is a strong risk that they will put pressure on the relevant authorities and also sign shady illegal deals with Kronospan. As a result, Ecoclub is concerned for the safety of its staff. 

Annex 1 Letter of Ecoclub to Department, out Ref #23 from 05.02.2020

Annex 2 Letter of Ecoclub to Department, out Ref #17 from 15.01.2020

*Legislation

  • Hygienic regulations “Limit concentrations of chemical and biological substances in the ambient air of settlements” adopted by decree #52 of Ministry of Health of Ukraine on January 14 2020 (Registered in Ministry of justice on February 10 under Ref No 156/34439).
  • State sanitary rules on protection of the ambient air in settlements (from pollution by chemical and biological substances) (DSP-201-97) adopted by the decree # 201 of Ministry  of Health of Ukraine form July 9 1997 (confirmed by Ministry for environmental protection and nuclear safety of Ukraine on March 18 1996, #11-4-279 and by State Committee of hydrometeorology on December 12, 1995 # K-2-822). 

1. The final beneficiary is “Kronospan Holdings P.L.S.”, Cyprus.

2. The Earhsight report  « Complicit in Corruption » , June 2018. 

3. UK researchers, Ukraine officials face off over illegal timber exports to EU by Bermet Talant, Kyivpost, Nov. 9, 2018 https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/uk-researchers-ukraine-officials-face-off-over-illegal-timber-exports-to-eu.html


Publications on the case:

11 tonnes of formaldehyde into the air each year – estimated emissions from the planned Kronospan plant in Horodok

The concentration of formaldehyde in Horodok will be exceeded 9 times – Ecoclub

Representatives of Kronospan have filed a lawsuit against Ecoclub

Kronospan court with Ecoclub: MEPs called on the Government and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to prioritize environmental issues


Contacts:

+38 (067) 363-62-26, office@ecoclubrivne.org

Contacts

Address:
33014, Rivne, 41, Stepana Bandery str., off. 92