UN denies NATO bombing caused eco-disaster


Jan Slakov

From: "Janet M Eaton" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 16:33:43 +0000
Subject: [GSN] UN Denies NATO  bombing led to ecological catastrophe !! 2 Items

From: "Janet M Eaton" <•••@••.•••>

2 news releases + commentary !! 

Over 80  news releases, articles, reports that I have reviewed and
referenced and another 11 being prepared for Ecological Catstrophe [7]
would suggest that the UN Teams' downplaying of the Ecological
Catastrophe might well be an understatement of the situation !!  

And to call Pancevo, Novi Sad, Nis and other industrial centers
"hotspots"  is to minimize the nature of a great ecological disaster 
which has created all manner of  immediately manifest and horrendous 
human health consequences the ultimate implications of which will not 
be known for a few years to come. 

Imagine if you were Tamara Radjenovic  a 32 year old Pancevo teacher  
watching your five year old daughter playing in a park and every few 
minutes she came to you to rest , gasping for air  ---   and you had 
just read that the world should rest assured that there is no 
ecological catastrophe in Yugoslavia - just a few "hot spots"  
like Pancevo where immediate action has to take place - but  which,  
by the way,  were highly contaminated anyway before the bombings  !! 

Just imagine how you would feel having already endured the banal NATO
propaganda technique of wrapping complicated transgressions into
simplistic phrases that assuage the conscience of  a mesmerized 
public - phrases like "humanitarian intervention", and " collateral 
damage " -  to find that  a devastating black cloud full of  noxious 
and toxic chemcials which has left its mark already in the lungs and 
ailing, perhaps dying,   body of your dearest child has now been 
relegated to a  "hot spot" in a country with  few environmental 
woes all in all !!!!!

I can imagine that Tamara might well feel  like a helpless and hapless
pawn in some far off wayward game where one's  life-sustaining
environment and indeed one's  right to live have been violated by 
wanton and reckless wrangling of  wheelers and dealers and wielders of
the power in the New World Order - 

all the best, 


1] New York Times  
July 28, 1999
Team Finds NATO Bombing Left Few Environment Woes

2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk.  
Telegraph, July 28, 1999
UN denies bombing led to pollution  catastrophe
By David Graves in Pancevo


New York Times  
July 28, 1999
Team Finds NATO Bombing Left Few Environment Woes

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- A United Nations environmental team has found
no evidence of a major ecological catastrophe in Yugoslavia as a
result of NATO's bombing war, its leader said Tuesday. But he urged
the West to provide immediate aid to help clean up significant "hot
spots" of war-related pollution. In a news conference to discuss
preliminary findings from the 10-day inspection visit, Pekka Haavisto,
a former Finnish environment minister and chairman of the U.N.'s
Balkan Task Force, said: "We talk about chosen hot spots where
immediate action has to take place, but not about a major ecocide or
country-wide catastrophe." Still, he said, environmental damage in
heavily bombed industrial towns like Pancevo, Kragujevac and Bor
needed immediate attention to protect the health of ordinary citizens,
and added, when asked, that the West should help. Mercury released by
the bombing of industrial targets is contaminating Pancevo. And in
Kragujevac, where the Zastava car factory was bombed, there are high
levels of PCBs. In Bor, the problem is acid rain, which could be
affecting areas beyond Yugoslavia. One of the most difficult problems
the team faced, Haavisto said, was distinguishing between pre-existing
environmental damage in Yugoslavia -- an Eastern European country that
has had nine years of economic sanctions -- and damage caused by the
war. In Pancevo, for instance, where a major petrochemical factory, a
refinery and a fertilizer factory were bombed repeatedly, mercury lies
in pools and should be cleaned up even before any other effort is made
at reconstruction, he said. When asked if it was safe to eat fish from
the Danube, he hesitated, saying that local officials had lifted a ban
on river fish and that they were honest in their assessments. Still,
he said, he would not let fishing continue in a mile-long channel near
Pancevo where effluent from the three factories enters the river. "We
found very dangerous chemicals there," he said. "But how dangerous it
is to the whole Danube we cannot say." Existing cleaning mechanisms
were overwhelmed by the water used to try to put out the fires and by
the lack of electricity or chemical supplies, he said. Haavisto said
the original state of environmental pollution in Pancevo was high,
though the bombing had worsened it. The effects of the "black rain" in
Pancevo, when burning factory fires sent pollutants and chemicals into
the air, had now passed, he said. "We've had some very worrying
findings, but in some sites where there was a lot of worry we found
nothing," he said. He said the initial findings did not show an
increased level of radioactivity from any bombs containing depleted
uranium, as was feared. But he noted there might be other consequences
from trace elements that still need to be examined. And in Nis, for
example, local fears about depleted uranium and the leakage of PCB's
into the ground and ground water proved unfounded, he said. In Bor, at
a copper factory, the problems are worsened by a lack of electricity
to run equipment that would stabilize sulfur or run pumping stations,
and so sulfur dioxide is being emitted into the air, causing acid rain
and likely traveling across borders. NATO countries are divided on how
much and what kind of help to provide Yugoslavia. The United States
has refused to consider any reconstruction aid while President
Slobodan Milosevic is in power, saying it will provide only relief
assistance. The European Union is urging broader aid to repair the
electrical system before the winter. But Washington has begun to
discuss how to get aid to individual cities, especially those run by
the opposition to Milosevic, and Pancevo and Kragujevac both are
opposition-run. In general, Haavisto danced carefully around the
political issues, stressing that the report of the U.N. team would be
given to Secretary-General Kofi Annan in about a month, after more
detailed laboratory tests and evaluation. Haavisto said that the
Yugoslav authorities were helpful and the team, which also went to
Novi Sad, Kraljevo, and Prahavo, visited any site he chose except for
those in Kosovo where land mines remain. Predrag S. Polic, a chemistry
professor at Belgrade University, praised the team for its dedication
and patience. "There is a lot of anxiety and emotions because of the
war and a lot of fear about health, and I hope things will improve,"
he said. "The hot spots are very bad, but large areas are only
temporarily affected." Given Yugoslavia's climate, with wind, rain,
rivers and vegetation, "self-purification here is good," Polic said.
"It's not like Iraq." Related Sites 

These sites are not part of The New York Times on the Web, and The
Times has no control over their content or availability. United


Telegraph, July 28, 1999
UN denies bombing led to pollution  catastrophe
By David Graves in Pancevo

                        YUGOSLAV government claims that it faces an
                        environmental catastrophe caused by Nato
                        bombing were rejected by the United Nations

                        It said several areas of severe pollution had
                        existed before the bombing began. Some had
                        been worsened by the bombing of industrial
                        areas where toxic waste needed to be treated
                        urgently. This should be included in a
                        programme of humanitarian aid that the West
                        had agreed to give to Belgrade, the UN said.

                        The main areas of damage were found at the
                        Pancevo industrial complex, 10 miles from
                        Belgrade, and in Kragujevac, where the Zastava
                        car factory was bombed, said scientists from
                        the UN Environment Programme.

                        Sulphur dioxide was leaking into the
                        atmosphere from a copper plant at Bor because
                        of a shortage of electricity and could cause
                        acid rain in neighbouring countries, they
                        added. But the pollution had started before
                        the bombing and had only been worsened by it.

                        The 17-strong UN team, which includes two
                        Britons, spent 10 days carrying out tests at
                        oil refineries, chemical plants and factories
                        hit by Nato to see what, if any, long-term
                        environmental damage had been caused.

                        Soil and water samples were analysed for toxic
                        compounds such as dioxins and PCBs at mobile
                        laboratories the team had taken to Yugoslavia
                        or removed for longer-term analysis by UN
                        scientists outside the country.

                        Nato's strategy of bombing 80 civilian
                        industrial sites to deny the Yugoslav Army
                        fuel and other vital logistical support led to
                        widespread panic among people living nearby
                        about toxic fumes and poisoned rivers.
                        President Slobodan Milosevic's government had
                        claimed the country had suffered severe
                        environmental damage.

                        Since the conflict ended last month, doctors
                        have advised some pregnant women to have
                        abortions and local people have complained of
                        developing unexplained rashes and blisters
                        after contact with contaminated soil.

                        In several towns people used homemade gas
                        masks to protect themselves from air pollution
                        and claimed rain had been turned black by huge
                        clouds of toxic smoke. Health officials in
                        Pancevo claimed that after a Nato raid on the
                        complex on April 18 a toxic cloud so dense and
                        potentially lethal was released that could
                        affect local people for decades to come.

                        At a press conference yesterday, Pekka
                        Haavisto, the former Finnish environment
                        minister, who led the UN mission, said that
                        final scientific results would not be
                        available until the end of August, but
                        preliminary indications were that "a major
                        catastrophe" had not occurred.

                        He said his team had encountered difficulties
                        in establishing the environmental history of
                        most industrial plants because detailed
                        reports were not available, but from its tests
                        the UN scientists had discovered there had
                        been widespread soil and water pollution at
                        Pancevo before the bombing. Many hazardous
                        substances had also been found in a waste
                        water channel near the complex, which could
                        leak into the River Danube.

                        "We were told that people living near the
                        plant had complained of what they called
                        'Pancevo cancer' well before the bombing and
                        there were concerns among health officials of
                        the high incidence of liver cancer in the
                        area," he said.

                        "There is no doubt that the treatment of toxic
                        waste was not very good before the conflict at
                        many industrial plants in the country and, in
                        some cases, the bombing has worsened the
                        environmental damage and there have been some
                        very worrying findings. There are disturbing
                        hot spots at Pancevo and Kragujevac." The
                        Pancevo complex had contained an oil refinery,
                        petrochemical plant and a fertiliser factory.

                        Mr Haavisto said that, despite concern raised
                        by the Yugoslav government that Nato had used
                        missile warheads containing depleted uranium,
                        his scientists had found no increased levels
                        of radioactivity anywhere in the country.

                        He added that while he accepted the issue of
                        who had caused the pollution --- Nato or the
                        Yugoslavs --- was a "highly political
                        question," the consequences remained the same
                        for the local population and urgent remedial
                        work needed to be taken in some cases.

                        A separate UN study on the impact of the
                        bombing on pollution in the Danube, the Balkan
                        region's biological diversity and on human
                        health will start next month. Other UN
                        environment experts will also travel to
                        Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania.


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