The Brave Coal Miners Powering Ukraine During a Time of War

by Chloe Baker
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In Ukraine, there are miners who work really deep underground to get coal. This coal is very important because it powers the country’s military and helps light up homes so people can have heat and light. Coal is especially needed since Russia was aggressive for six months by destroying much of Ukraine’s electricity supply.

Workers take an elevator down to the coal mine. Then, they use big machines to dig out coal and bring it back up to the surface. It is difficult work, but it keeps the country running.

Oleksandr, the chief engineer, said that energy independence is very important for everybody in this country. He only gave his first name because of security reasons.

For two years now, Russia has been attacking Ukraine’s power stations, making it difficult for people to access electricity. Talks about demilitarizing an important nuclear power plant (called the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant) that was taken over by Russian forces at the start of their invasion have stopped as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy does not want to give away control of this big and important European energy facility.

The Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine can usually make 6,000 megawatts of electricity. But the operators had to turn off the last reactor in September because Russian forces were bombing near it. This shell has also damaged the plant many times and made people worried that a nuclear meltdown could happen. To make matters worse, Russian missiles have even targeted power lines that are essential for controlling coolers at this plant and other nuclear sites in Ukraine.

Before the war began, Ukraine was trying to get away from using coal for producing electricity because it creates pollution that hurts our planet. They wanted to use nuclear energy and natural gas instead. But once the Russian attacks started, many of the houses had trouble staying warm in the winter so they needed to use coal again. Oleksandr said this was why coal ended up helping out a lot.

Coal miners can partly give us energy, but this does not make up for what nuclear power plants usually provide. The miners still do their best to fill in the energy gaps.

Serhii, one of the coal miners, explained that when they are underground, they forget about all the problems outside and work with a positive attitude. But after their shift ends, it’s an entirely different life: just trying to survive day by day.

A lot of coal miners in Ukraine left to join the army when Russian troops invaded. But, nearly one-hundred-fifty displaced workers from other coal mining regions in eastern Ukraine went to the city of Dnipropetrovsk. Yurii is from Vuhledar and worked as a miner for twenty years before he had to leave due to the war. Now, it’s impossible for him to go back and work at the same mine he used to work at anymore.

He said “Life starts from the beginning.”

On Saturday, people studying wars for Britain said that Russia was really trying to make Ukraine’s power grid not work during the winter days but it looks like this didn’t work. Plus, they think the energy in Ukraine will become better as time passes and the temperature gets warmer.

The U.K. Defense Ministry reported that there have been a lot of strikes happening in Ukraine since October, but the big ones which cause lots of destruction are not happening anymore. Also, the workers in Ukraine figured out how to find parts and equipment to keep the electricity on. Samya Kallab wrote this story from Kyiv, Ukraine while AP wrote another article about the war in Ukraine found at this link: https://bigbignews.net/russia-ukraine

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