Seventy per cent of pollution in Serbia predates the war, Pekka Haavisto, leader of a UN team of environmentalists, told Environment Minister Evdokia Maneva.
The team, consisting of experts
from Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, France, Sweden and Romania,
is on a fact-finding mission about damage to the environment caused by the armed conflict.
The air in and around Pancevo is polluted but toxic substances have not entered the soil.
Radiation levels in that part of Serbia do not exceed the natural background radiation,
the team concluded. They described as hazardous the toxic fall-out within a range of 1,000
metres from places where depleted uranium bombs exploded. Large amounts of dichlorethane
and mercury were found in the sediments in a 2-km channel linking Pancevo's industrial
area with the Danube. The levels of oil products and mercury in the sediments of the Iron
Gate One and Two hydro-engineering complexes also exceed the maximum permissible levels.
However, they are below the norm in the lower reaches of the river due to
self-purification going on between the two complexes with a total length of 70 km. There
still are no results from tests of sediments in the Morava River. Polyvinyl chloride was
found in the soil of Kraguevac. The environment around the Bor mines has been polluted for
dozens of years, the toxic substances in it did not result from the conflict, said
Haavisto who left for Romania. No high-risk pollution was established in Kosovo and
Macedonia's border regions. Large amounts of refuse left behind in the refugee camps were
dumped into sources of drinking water, the UN team found. Maneva briefed Haavisto on the
findings of Bulgarian tests of the soil, air and water of the 50-km strip along the
western border, saying that Bulgaria has no measuring equipment for dioxin. Maneva said
the Serbian authorities had not replied to her enquiries about pollution of the Timok
River, which runs along the common border, by the Bor mines. The Danube should be
monitored jointly with Romanian experts but the more precise equipment needed for the
purpose is unavailable in the two countries, Maneva said. The UN team will study only the
situation in Serbia, Haavisto said. He presented an interim report on the findings to
Maneva. The final report on the environmental damage caused by the war in Serbia will be
ready in early October.
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