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Tuesday 14 October 1999.

 

BALKANS: UN Report Recommends Cleanup Of 'Hot Spots'

A UN report released today on the environmental impact of NATO's bombing campaign in Yugoslavia is expected to conclude that the heaviest pollution is confined to industrial cities and that there are no signs of widespread or long-term catastrophe (Jeffrey Fleishman, Philadelphia Inquirer).

The joint UN Environment Program (UNEP) and UN Center for Human Settlements Balkans Task Force report identifies four "hot spots" -- Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Bor -- that require immediate attention (UNEP release).

In Pancevo, where NATO strikes on oil refineries, petrochemical plants and fertilizer factories released mercury and other carcinogens over the ground and into a canal that flows into the Danube River. There is also a "brew of poisonous wastes" leaking from a car factory in Kragujevac, and UNEP is "troubled by gases escaping from a copper plant in the city of Bor and from unexploded bombs in national parks and recreation areas" (Fleishman, Philadelphia Inquirer).

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer: "The international community should assist the relevant authorities in dealing with the key environmental hot spots, thus avoiding further harm to human health and the environment in Yugoslavia and the wider Balkans region" (UNEP release).


Official Says Bombing Caused $3B In EnvironmentalDamage

Meanwhile, a Yugoslav official said yesterday that NATO's bombing caused more than $3 billion worth of environmental damage.

Radomir Mandic, director of Serbia's Institute for Environmental Protection, said the figure had been reached by a commission that investigated the damage to nature and wildlife in all areas except Kosovo, which is under international management (Reuters/PlanetArk). (All cites 14 October.)

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