Fears that war could contaminate Ukraine’s waters

STORY: These divers are demining experts - searching a river in Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces took back the Sumy region from Russian forces in April...

...but four months on, cannon shells are still being fished out in its waters.

Ukraine's environment ministry estimates it'll take at least a decade to clear all the mines and explosives from the country.

And there are fears long-term war could mean an environmental disaster.... leaving Ukraine's waters contaminated for years to come.

Denys Monastyrskyi is Ukraine's Interior Minister.

“It is known that water demining will go on for years. It is the area where we have a lot of work to do. We estimate the work that has to be done to demine Ukraine’s waters will take at least five to seven years. Why? Because it is the most difficult type of demining.”

Ukraine's Emergency Service in June said more than 239 square miles of land littered with thousands of explosives had been cleared.

But nearly 160,000 square miles are still seen as “contaminated”.

Sofiia Sadogurska at The Center for Environmental Initiatives warns that the efforts to remove the unexploded devices may not be enough to protect the ecosystem and human health.

“These territories are affected not just by mining itself but also by heavy pollution from explosions and from rockets, and from the moving of the, for example, military troops. So, to just remove mines on these territories will not be enough to restore all these unique ecosystems.”

An estimated 27 percent of Ukraine's land needs demining.

Last week the U.S. government approved $89 million in funding to help in the efforts.