Initial Conference of REVITAL I Project

On November 28, 2019 in a session hall of Zakarpattia regional council, an Initial conference of the project «Environmental Assessment for Natural Resources Revitalization in Solotvyno to prevent the further pollution of the Upper-Tisza Basin through the preparation of a complex monitoring system (REVITAL I)» HUSKROUA/1702/6.1/0072 took place.

The main applicant and beneficiary: Tisza European grouping for territorial cooperation liability limited (EGTC Tisza). Partners: the University of Miskolc (Hungary), Solotvyno council (Ukraine), Municipality of Sighetu-Marmației (Romania), Kosice technical university (Slovakia) and Institute of geological sciences of the National academy of sciences of Ukraine.

The project has been prepared within the Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine European neighborhood instrument cross-border cooperation programme 2014-2020». (priority 6.1 «Sustainable utilization of the environment of the bordering territories – natural resources preservation, measures to limit greenhouse gases emission and river pollution») in order to fulfill one of the major recommendations of the EU advisory mission mechanism of social protection report on evaluation risks and hazards on the territory of a state-owned enterprise «Solotvyno salt mines», based on the mission’s on spot evaluation in fall 2016.

According to the decision of HUSKROUA Joint monitoring committee, the REVITAL I project has been chosen as a winning one on July 12, 2018. Total budget of the project: 1 075 817,58 euro, of which EU contribution accounts for 968 235,81 euro. Project implementation period is 24 months.

On the 29th of August 2019 at Zakarpattia regional administration, the grant agreement was signed by Áron Szakács, head of Joint Technical Secretariat of the EU neighborhood instrument «Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine 2014-2020» and Oszkár Seszták, president of the general assembly of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, president of Tisza EGTC. On October 22, 2019, the project REVITAL I was registered by the Ministry for development of economy, trade and agriculture of Ukraine.

The project aims to conduct geophysical research in the mines area as well as outside of it; drill shafts to get probes for monitoring and data collection in the mining area and around it; indicator tests; collect water probes in lakes, rivers and underground waters; use specific automated equipment to explore the ruined mines aerially and from underground.

Because of potential harmful impact on the bordering territories and in an attempt to implement a more complex monitoring system, broader areas will be closely monitored by mapping the ruined and neglected salt mines using the robotic technology developed by scientists of Miskolc University. The robot will perform analysis and photographing of the current condition to facilitate the search for the optimal problem solution and potential area restoration.

The main goal of the REVITAL I project is to set up a foundation for the Solotvyno salt mines and the surrounding territories revitalization by deepening the cross-border cooperation.

Three specific goals are outlined: define the current ecological situation at Solotvyno salt mine and surrounding territory with help of innovative technology; initiate research and monitoring as well as prepare the future complex monitoring system to follow qualitative and quantitative changes in surface and underground waters, soil shifts; increase the awareness and spread the results of the project on various levels.

The conference opened with director and co-director of EGTC Tisza, head of Zakarpattia regional council and president of the general assembly of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, Mykhailo Rivis and Oszkár Seszták, deputy director of EGTC Tisza Yudita Yevchak.

The conference participants were greeted by deputy head of Zakarpattia regional administration, Oleksiy Hetmanenko, who assured everyone that local governing authorities, as always, fully support the EGTC Tisza in all the projects relevant and important to the region, REVITAL I implementation in particular; consul general of Hungary in Uzhgorod, Buhajla József, who also greeted the participants on behalf of the Ministry of foreign affairs and trade of Hungary, which actually initiated the idea to help solve Solotvyno problem back in summer, 2015, and to these days been an inspiration of its realization; the Ministry for development of economy, trade and agriculture of Ukraine, department head, Ludmyla Homichak, who guaranteed full support and stressed out the importance of a joint effort to successfully complete the REVITAL I project in order to preserve the environment and sustainably use the unique potential of the region; consul general of Hungary in Berehovo, Matiash Siladi, who mentioned the importance to join the process of solving Solotvyno problem on every level.

After watching a shorter edit of a documentary about Solotvyno directed by a renowned Hungarian director Dezső Zsigmond «The earth is swallowing», the room was silent, comments were superfluous…

In this context, a head of liquidation committee of State-owned enterprise «Solotvyno salt mines», Serhiy Proskura, shared his view on the past and current state of the mine, as well as its problems and perspectives. Many points to ponder were outlined.

Then, dr. Viktor György Oroszi, national coordinator of the EU Strategy for the Danube region, the Ministry of foreign affairs and trade of Hungary delivered his speech. It’s worth mentioning that this institution, then under István Joó (now, deputy State secretary for export development at Ministry of foreign affairs) was the first one to respond to Zakarpattia regional council requests for help in solving Solotvyno case. Diplomats, national coordinators of the EU strategy for the Danube region, did their best to present the case to the EU partners. Viktor Oroszi stressed out the actuality of the EU strategy for the Danube region and the REVITAL I project tangent points in prioritized areas related to the quality of water and ecological hazards.

Andrea Cap, director of EGTC Tisza, presented the main body of the project, whereas scientists of the faculty of engineering earth sciences of the university of Miskolc, dr. László Perger and faculty dean, prof. dr. Péter Szucs, – technical part of the REVITAL I project. It was quite impressive because a robot, that would be exploring the mine in August 2020, was demonstrated.

Very informative and interesting speech was delivered by Volodymyr Pryhodko, doctor of economics, director of public administration and regional development institute of UzNU and Ivan Lemko, prof, md, director of State institution «Scientific and practical medical center «Rehabilitation» of the Ministry of health of Ukraine, about Solotvyno natural and touristic aspects as a main direction of development, recreational and health care potential of Solotvyno natural resources that can greatly increase the region’s touristic visibility and attractiveness.

     At the very end of the conference, the partners were introduced. Miskolc university was presented by dr. Viktória Mikita, lecturer of the environmental management Institute, Romanian colleagues – dr. Lengyel Peter, Sighetu-Marmatiei Municipality, Slovakian colleagues – Martina Zelenakova, vice dean for marketing and international relations of Technical university of Kosice, associate prof., faculty of civil engineering, Institute of environmental engineering, Stella Shekhunova, doctor of geological sciences, associate member of the National academy of sciences of Ukraine, deputy director of the Institute of geological sciences of the NAS of Ukraine, on behalf of Solotvyno council, János Kocserha, deputy mayor, spoke.

150 representatives of state authorities and local governing bodies, delegates of every level, consulate institutions, higher educational institutions of Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, the NAS of Ukraine, NGOs and media participated in the initial conference.

Before the conference, representatives of EGTC Tisza, the Ministry for development of economy, trade and agriculture of Ukraine held a press-conference for the regional Ukrainian and Hungarian media.

The event was professionally organized and held on a very high level attracting much interest and attention of all the participants.

    Co-financed by the European Union HUSKROUA/1702/6.1/0072