The current mission is organized in cooperation with the Vienna-based International Commission on the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), and the ICPDR Executive Secretary, Joachim Bendow has accompanied the BTF Chairman, Pekka Haavisto, in meetings held yesterday with the Yugoslav authorities.
Over the next few days, the BTF scientists - from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden - will visit potential pollution "hot spots" up- and down-stream of the Novi-Sad oil refinery, Pancevo industrial complex and a tributary near the Zastava car factory in Kragujevac. The team will also visit the Iron Gates dam on the border between Yugoslavia and Romania. The Djerdap reservoir holds extensive layers of sediment that can absorb organic matter, and toxic and hazardous wastes possibly carried down the River Danube. In this regard, samples taken from this site might reveal what Pekka Haavisto calls an "environmental history of the war". In an effort to assess the environmental condition of the Danube before and after the conflict, the scientists will collect sediment and water samples. They will also measure the accumulation of pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in living mussels, in order to get a picture of the possible toxic releases to the Danube in the hours immediately after the damage of industrial facilities. After the mission which ends on 29 August, the samples will be sent to independent laboratories for detailed analyses.
From 18-27 July, a BTF team of international experts visited the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to assess the environmental damage caused by the conflict at selected industrial sites. A second BTF team, based in Pristina, is currently working in close cooperation with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on issues of urban management and rehabilitation, housing law, property registration and environmental management.
For more information, please contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesman and Director of Communications and Public Information Branch, Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel: (254-2) 623292; Fax: 623692;
Actg, Head, Media and Press Relations, Habitat.
Tel.: (254-2) 623153, fax: 624060,
Office of the UNEP Spokesman and BTF Press Officer.
(in Belgrade, until 28 August, c/o the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Tel.: (381-11) 311- 1234; Fax: 311-2234; Mobile: 41-79-206-3720,
UNEP News Release 1999/92