3.A.1 Sources of pollution to the Black Sea

The tables and figures shown in 3.A.1 summarize the BSEP study of sources of pollution to the Black Sea. The data was obtained in the following manner:

Point sources

These were estimated by applying the WHO Rapid Assessment technique. In each Black Sea country, assessment teams were appointed and the WHO Methodology was translated into the local language (except for Ukraine and Georgia, where Russian was used). The local team then investigated all major discharges of effluent and completed questionnaires on the nature and existing treatment facilities of all significant discharging activities. Using standard formulae, the discharge of major classes of contaminants was then calculated and the data compiled. Quality assurance checks were made by the Activity Centre for Routine Pollution Monitoring (at the Istanbul Technical University )

It is important to stress that the data presented consists of estimates. Experience in other regimes has validated this approach. However, data quality can only be as accurate as the information given to the national teams by the industries, municipalities, etc., involved. The exchange of real effluent measurements should be the next step.


The river data is based upon real measurements made by the relevant authorities. Where more than one data set is available, these have been intercompared in order to review data quality. Nevertheless, further work on data quality will be needed in the future.


Data for straits is based upon figures in the current scientific literature. In the case of the Bosphorus, the inflow (to the Black Sea) and the outflow (to the Marmara Sea) have been treated separately.

Further information

Full data sets can be obtained on report from the BSEP PCU. Comments and additional information are most welcome. Please note that current data does not include discharge of substances other than BOD, TSS, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and oil. No information is available on atmospheric inputs, nor on upwelling from deeper waters.


Despite the limitations in data quality described above, the differences between the national (direct) point sources and international rivers is self-evident. The influx of nutrients from the Danube river is particularly impressive. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first quantitative evidence regarding the relative importance of this influx.

The reader is, however, cautioned against interpreting the nutrient influx from the Danube as being the only issue worthy of action. The data reveals rather large BOD fluxes from virtually all Black Sea countries. Many of these discharges correspond with inadequate treatment facilities for domestic sewage. The discharges also include large quantities of microbiological pathogens -- one of the largest problems affecting the quality of the Black Sea environment.

The oil data reveals another major issue. Land-based sources of oil pollution and river discharges are almost equal. Together they sum over 100,000 tons per annum -- much greater than the largest oil tanker accidents recorded worldwide! The current estimate for oil is probably an underestimate, as it does not include the illegal deballasting of oil tankers, which is well known to occur in the Black Sea.

See also

3.A.1.1 All pollutant loads (summary)
3.A.1.2 Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) Pollutant Loads
3.A.1.3 Total Suspended Solids (TSS) Pollutant Loads
3.A.1.4 Total Nitrogen (TN) Pollutant Loads
3.A.1.5 Total Phosphorus (TP) Pollutant Loads
3.A.1.6 TN, TP and TOC pollutant exchange through Bosphorus
3.A.1.7 Pollutant inputs into the Sea of Azov through rivers
3.A.1.8 Oil pollution of the Black Sea
2.A.1 Assessment of the discharge of chemical and micro-biological contaminants to coastal and marine areas