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Agence France Presse, August 13 1999

Copyright 1999 Agence France Presse

UNEP to probe radioactive pollution in Kosovo

NAIROBI, Aug 13 - The UN environment agency is to investigate possible radioactive contamination in Kosovo following NATO's use there of arms incorporating depleted uranium, officials said here Friday.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is evaluating overall war damage to the environment in the Balkans, the agency's spokesman Tore Brevik told AFP.

"There are international concerns that radioactive material may have been used and we will cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and WHO (World Health Organisation) to investigate that because we do not have the necessary expertise," said Brevik.

Concerns have been raised, mainly by the US media, that NATO used uranium-tipped shells during its 11-week bombing raids in Kosovo.

UNEP is looking into the direct effects on the environment and human settlements impacts of the conflict in the Balkans and into the wider consequences to countries of the region, including Bulgaria and Romania.

An initial UN mission to the region found that damage to oil refineries, fuel dumps and chemical and fertiliser factories, as well as toxic smoke from huge fires and leakage of harmful chemicals into the soil and the water table, had contributed to as yet unassessed pollution.

jnm/afm/agv

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