Rapporteurs: Sir John HARMAN (United-Kingdom)
and Mr Joseph BORG (Malta)
In accordance with the Motion for a Resolution CG(6)12 adopted by the Congress at its 6th Plenary Session, the Working Group on Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development initiated a co-operation with the experts of Green Cross International to investigate the environmental consequences of the Kosovo conflict.
Green Cross, an environmental NGO based in Geneva, has been involved in collecting and analysing information on the environmental situation in the South-East European region on behalf of the UNEP/UNCHS Balkans Task Force and the FOCUS Humanitarian Relief Operation, organised by Switzerland, Russia, Greece and Austria
The joint UNEP/UNCHS (Habitat) Balkans Task Force was established in early May 1999 when the Kosovo conflict was still ongoing. In addition to the unfolding humanitarian crisis there was growing concern about the environmental and human settlement consequences of the conflict.
To address these issues, the Balkans Task Force mobilised an international and independent scientific team to work within Kosovo and at targeted industrial sites in Serbia. Similar teams visited pollution sources along the Danube River, as well as targets within National Parks and other protected areas.
The question raised by the Kosovo conflict and the subsequent embargo is whether to consider the actions necessary to avoid irreversible environmental degradation as being part of the overall humanitarian assistance. For the environmental experts who work in the region there is no doubt those actions must be immediately implemented under the umbrella of humanitarian aid.
FOCUS and the Balkans Task Force recommend emergency clean-up programmes at four environmental hot spots: Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Bor, where pollution is serious and poses a threat to human health and the environment. The following report presents excerpts from the findings of the Balkans Task Force.
Perhaps the most endangered natural resource in times of war is truth. This became very evident during the Kosovo conflict. When the Rambouillet accord failed and NATO air strikes started on 24 March 1999, alarming reports began to appear about the environmental damage caused by the bombing. Images of Pancevo and Novi Sad oil refineries on fire, toxic chemicals leaking into the River Danube, and bomb craters in protected areas were competing with those of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing their homes in Kosovo.
Whilst the immediate humanitarian consequences of the conflict were clear, public opinion was more divided over the possible consequences for the environment. On one hand, there was fear of widespread ecological damage and destruction in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and neighbouring countries. On the other hand, NATO argued that its use of sophisticated weapons against carefully selected targets would minimise environmental and other 'collateral' damage. This was the dilemma the Joint UNEP/UNCHS (Habitat) Balkans Task Force (BTF) faced from its establishment in early May 1999.
The Kosovo Conflict also had wider regional impacts: Albania and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had to receive huge numbers of refugees from Kosovo although they were unprepared for the scale of the influx. Other neighbouring countries, especially Bulgaria and Romania, downstream along the Danube, feared the effects of transboundary pollution from targeted industrial facilities. The fires in the oil refineries and oil storage depots sometimes lasted for many days and created clouds of pollution over wide areas, whilst news of the leakage of dangerous chemicals to air, land and water were prominent in the international media.
In Kosovo, Serbian forces systematically emptied and destroyed many towns and villages. The damage to living quarters, infrastructure, clean drinking water supply and waste systems was obvious. When the Kosovar Albanians fled their homes, much of the documentation setting out legal ownership of land and property was lost or taken by force, in turn complicating the return of the refugees to their home areas.
Although addressed largely by other UN bodies, environmental problems caused by the stream of refugees also became an issue, with sanitation and drinking water services under enormous pressure in the overcrowded refugee camps.
1. International scientific teams were formed
After studying carefully all the incoming news and information about the possible consequences of the conflict for the environment and human settlements, the BTF decided to concentrate on five areas, as follows:
1) Environmental consequences of air strikes on industrial sites - field mission
2) Environmental consequences of the conflict on the Danube river - complementary field mission
3) Consequences of the conflict on biodiversity in protected areas - field mission
4) Consequences of the conflict for human settlements and the environment in Kosovo - field assessment and project development/implementation
5) Possible use of depleted uranium weapons in Kosovo - desk assessment
The missions were organised in such a way that, in addition to the UNEP and UNCHS staff, a representative and independent team of international experts from different countries was put together. This final BTF report therefore represents the joint result of the mission findings and detailed expert research. The exact sites to be visited by the various missions were selected after systematically reviewing information from a wide range of sources, and undertaking a preliminary field assessment from 17-21 June. Whilst these sites were considered by BTF to be those most affected by environmental consequences of the conflict, it should be stressed that it was not feasible to undertake a comprehensive field assessment of every targeted location.
The first technical mission visited the following key areas: Pancevo, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Bor, Pristina, Nis, Novi Beograd, Obrenovac, Kraljevo and Prahovo. The mission included 16 experts and two mobile laboratories from Denmark and Germany specialising in environmental contamination. Samples were taken from the soil, air and groundwater and analysed either on-the-spot using the mobile laboratories, or sent to laboratories in Denmark and Germany. Investigations were made at bombed industrial sites and the areas adjoining them. Special attention was given to the possible contamination of agricultural land close to targeted facilities.
Nine experts took part in the Danube field mission, which was organised in close co-operation with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). The principal sites visited were Novi Sad, Pancevo, the 'Iron Gate' Reservoir and the Lepenica and Morava rivers, tributaries of the Danube close to Kragujevac. The scientific work focused mainly on sampling river water, bottom and bank sediments, mussels and other invertebrates. For comparison, samples were taken upstream and downstream of the industrial areas. The samples were analysed at a specialised laboratory in Hungary.
The biodiversity mission, composed of five scientists, visited Fruska Gora National Park, Kopaonik National Park, Zlatibor in Serbia and Lake Skadar in Montenegro.
During the field missions the BTF organised stake-holder meetings in Belgrade, Pancevo, Novi Sad, and Nis with representatives of local NGOs, environmental experts, and local authorities (often in political opposition to Belgrade).
The UNCHS (Habitat) team started its work in Kosovo in July. It has now entered a crucial first phase of implementation in the fields of municipal administration, regularisation of housing and property rights and development of a cadastral information system. Work also included analysis of the environmental policy and institutional framework in the Province of Kosovo.
2. Dumping of weapons in the Adriatic Sea and the issue of depleted uranium
During the NATO air campaign, there were environmental concerns linked directly to the use of specific weapons. Firstly, it was reported that up to 100 bombs had been jettisoned into the Adriatic Sea by NATO aircraft returning to bases in Italy. This led to pollution fears amongst countries bordering the Adriatic. However, according to information received by BTF in August 1999, some 93 bombs had been located and detonated by NATO, with a small number remaining in deep water (below 250 m).
According to media and NGO sources, weapons containing depleted uranium were used in the Kosovo war. In spite of attempts by the BTF, it was not possible to obtain official confirmation of this - or a map of the areas which might possibly have been hit by this type of weapon - either from NATO (and its member states) or from the Yugoslavian authorities.
It was therefore decided to carry out this part of the investigation by means of a desk assessment through an expert group comprised of representatives from the World Health Organisation, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Swedish Radiation Protection Institute and UNEP. The desk assessment group undertook one fact-finding mission to Kosovo, taking basic measurements of radioactivity from random bombsites. The main part of the groups’ work, however, consisted of developing conclusions and recommendations relating to areas where depleted uranium was used or is suspected to have been used.
3. Environmental 'hot spots' found in four cities
The Balkans Task Force found environmental hot spots in the four areas (Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Bor), where urgent action is needed. It is important to ensure the safety of the environment and the clean-up of these areas immediately, in order to avoid risks to human health and long-term ecological damage. The actions include, among other work, cleaning of the canal leading to the Danube in Pancevo, cleaning of mercury from the ground in Pancevo, the decontamination of dioxin and PCB hot spots in Kragujevac, steps to ensure safety of drinking water in Novi Sad and reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions from the copper mine in Bor.
In addition to these hot spots, the BTF made other alarming observations about the environment. However, some of these problems have built up over a period of many years, and taking action would demand further investigation. These problems do not result from the recent war, but from years of environmental neglect. To mention just two examples, the sediment on the bed of the Danube river is contaminated by toxic pollutants from the 1960s, '70s and '80s, whilst pollution of the Timok river (a Danube tributary) near to Bor, has been a long-standing source of disagreement between Bulgaria and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
During the BTF's investigations, it has occasionally been difficult to separate some of the earlier environment and health problems from those caused as a result of the recent conflict. In these cases, the BTF has taken a 'common sense' approach to the recommendations, in which the main concern is to prevent future problems to human health and the environment, rather than to make unreliable judgements about responsibility.
Evidently the conflict caused widespread physical destruction. Efforts towards institutional rebuilding and physical reconstruction will have to take environmental considerations into account. The strengthening of environmental institutions will generate benefits for the economy as well as the environment, at regional, national and local scales. When political circumstances permit, the full participation of the region in international Conventions should be a high priority.
In conducting its work and making recommendations, the BTF has not attempted to solve the environment-related health problems resulting from the war; this is the task of others. However, the BTF stresses that mitigating the effects of the most serious problems requires immediate action.
4. Environmental 'first aid' as part of humanitarian assistance
We believe that our recommendations concerning the Province of Kosovo and the Republic of Montenegro are such that the UN organisations and aid community can provide immediate local and regional support. In the Republic of Serbia, the political situation limits all non-humanitarian aid and prevents investments aimed at reconstruction.
The BTF proposes that the UN and other donors, as part of humanitarian aid to the region, should assist the relevant authorities in dealing with the key environmental hot spots, thus avoiding further harm to human health and the environment within the FRY and the wider Balkan region. It is clear that under present circumstances, although the Serbian authorities can deal with some of the priorities using their own expertise and funding, others will require assistance from the international community.
II. STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS IN THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA PRIOR TO THE KOSOVO CONFLICT
In general, the environmental situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) is comparable to that of other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and is influenced by the prevailing economic and political conditions. UNEP has observed that 'Development under the centrally-planned economies in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia was understood mainly in terms of growth of physical production (especially in the industry and energy sectors) and this resulted in the severe exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources".
Unfortunately, up-to-date, systematic and internationally comparable State of the Environment (SoE) reporting does not exist in the FRY. This chapter draws on official and unofficial reports issued by the FRY Ministry of Science, Development and Environment (official report of 1994, unofficial report of 1998), other statistical material published by FRY governmental agencies, reports from international organisations (UNDP, UNEP, UN/ECE, WHO, EEA and REC) and scientific publications. Information obtained from published sources has been complemented by the findings of the various BTF field missions. All the neighbouring countries (with the exception of Croatia) have participated in a co-operative project between the EU Phare programme, the EEA and UNEP to make available to a wider audience easy-to-understand, up-to-date and comparable information about the state of the environment.
Before the Second World War, Yugoslavia was an underdeveloped, primarily agricultural country. From the 1950s to the 1970s the country witnessed tremendous development and economic growth, with rates of industrialisation and urbanisation among the highest in the world. This growth was based mainly on a traditional industrialisation pattern, with high use of energy and raw materials placing significant pressures on natural resources and the environment. This resulted in a decrease in forested area, deterioration of water quality in rivers and lakes, and increased air pollution in urban and industrial areas. Rapid and partially uncontrolled urban growth also led to a number of environmental problems. During the 1980s Yugoslavia faced economic stagnation which eventually led to radical institutional reforms in 1989, followed by the independence of several Yugoslav Republics in 1991 and 1992. The disintegration of the common market of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and the sanctions imposed by the UN during the 1990s led to a dramatic decrease in economic activities, which only slightly recovered after the stabilisation programme of 1994. Economic decline and the UN sanctions against the FRY have in general led to reduced pollution of air and water. However, negative environmental consequences, in particular due to the increased use of low-quality fuels, and diminished investments by industry in environmental protection have been observed. The suspension of international co-operation has had an undisputedly negative impact on environmental management and institutional development in the FRY.
2. Environmental issues
Air pollution in the FRY is considerable, but mainly concentrated in urban and industrial areas. The principal air pollution sources include thermal power and heating plants, domestic heating, motor vehicles and industrial processes. Inefficient energy utilisation, unqualified system management and low technical efficiency of equipment exacerbate the situation. The air quality is measured by monitoring the emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Measurements are regularly published for the country as a whole and for urban areas.
The main sources of water pollution are human settlements, industry and agriculture. A significant degree of pollution enters the country through rivers; the FRY thus has vital interests in co-operation with other Danube countries. The quality of surface and ground waters is controlled by hydro-meteorological institutes (monitoring of hydrological, physical-chemical, biological and bacteriological properties of water) and public health institutes (monitoring of hygienic safety of drinking water). Over the last 30 years the quality of river water has dropped considerably, most rivers being downgraded by one or even two classes in the four-class water quality system adopted in 1968. More recently, an improvement of the quality of all water resources in the FRY has been recorded, most likely a result of the UN sanctions causing a decline in economic activities.
Yugoslavia’s industry produces significant quantities of waste, with the chemical industry (37.6%) and primary metallurgy (29.1%) accounting for the largest share of the total waste generated. Large quantities of waste are also produced in the mining sector (SoE 1998). An estimated 225 thousand tonnes of hazardous waste are being produced annually. In addition to the industrial waste, an estimated 0.4 to 1.5 kg per person per day of household garbage is being generated in the FRY. Few dumps meet strict requirements and a rather high number of illegal waste dumps exist. There are no adequate treatment or storage facilities for highly toxic waste anywhere in the country, leading to a continuous build-up of hazardous waste.
2.4 Soil, Forests, Agriculture
Most soil and land degradation in the FRY is caused by agriculture and mining. However, some of the pressure on agricultural land has decreased through the drastic reduction in fertiliser use in the 1990s. Total forest cover is 28% of the country's total area which is around the European average. Since the 1960s, the forested area has slightly increased (4 % between 1966 and 1993). According to official statistics, illegal cutting has decreased during the 1990s.
In terms of natural diversity, the FRY is one of the most important geographical regions in Europe. It is home to a wealth of species (plants, fish, birds, mammals) that is matched by few other European nations. The total area of protected and particularly valuable natural areas cover more than 400,000 hectares of the FRY's territory. There are nine national parks (Fruska Gora, Djerdap - Iron Gates, Kopaonik, Tara, Mt. Sara, Biogradska Gora, Durmitor, Lovcen and Lake Skadar) located in all three geographic macro-regions: Panonian, mountainous and coastal. One of the European centres of biodiversity is shared with the mountainous part of Bulgaria. While the general environmental situation in Montenegro and Kosovo is comparable with the rest of the FRY, there are some specific regional issues worth mentioning here:
Republic of Montenegro
Through its location on the Adriatic coast, Montenegro has to deal with issues of marine pollution (mainly caused by industry) and the threats posed by tourism to the coastline and the saltwater estuaries. At the Rio conference in 1992, Montenegro declared itself the world's first 'environmental state', pledging to live more harmoniously with nature.
Province of Kosovo
Of special concern for Kosovo is the large-scale exploitation of mineral resources. After the Second World War, mining activities expanded considerably and triggered rapid growth of various related industrial operations. Most of this mining and industrial development took place without installation of adequate environmental protection equipment and without proper siting of the industrial plants, which has resulted in serious environmental degradation and impacts on the health of the local population.
Environmental hot spots in Kosovo are Kosovska-Mitrovica (lead and zinc mines and related industry), Obiliq (open cast lignite mines and related energy industries), Glogovc (ferro-nickel mines and metallurgical industry) and Elez Han (limestone quarries and cement factory).
3. Environmental policy, legislation and institutions
Environmental protection in Yugoslavia started to be taken seriously in the 1970s. The general policy, legal and institutional framework has substantial parallels with those found in other countries in the region. For example, within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, there is an environmental policy statement, constitutional recognition of the right to a healthy environment, framework environmental legislation (Serbia) and environmental impact assessment legislation (Serbia). Ministries of Environment exist at the federal level and in Serbia and Montenegro. Sectoral legislation on air, water, soil, natural/cultural heritage, spatial/settlement planning and chemicals/waste is in place, comprising a large number of laws (more than 150) and other regulations (more than 100) at all levels.
The extent to which such policy instruments are effectively implemented and enforced is less clear. Reportedly, with the economic depression and the increasing international isolation of the country, working conditions in the Ministries and other branches of public service have deteriorated.
Public participation in environmental matters has to be considered as underdeveloped, even in the context of local decision-making and environmental impact assessment procedures. There is a wide variety of environmental NGOs. Many of them have considerable experience and are important and capable sources of information. However, many are also facing economic difficulties and declines in membership.
Access to environmental information is - despite extensive and rather progressive legislation - in reality not so straightforward. At the national level, there is an obvious lack of user-friendly environmental information products provided by official sources. Similarly, at the local level, individuals seem to have difficulties getting the information they need. The FRY has not yet signed the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice on environmental matters. The Federal Government seems, however, to be aware of the growing importance of environmental information and public participation and has approved a project for the design and implementation of 'An Integrated Environmental Information System of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia'.
The country has ratified a large number of international treaties or conventions (52 in total) relevant to the environment. International environmental co-operation has suffered recently from the effects of the UN embargo, notably in the field of technical co-operation, where other CEE countries have profited tremendously in the 1990s.
4. Human settlements
According to the 1991 census, the total population of Serbia was approximately 9.8 million, of which close to 2 million lived in the Province of Kosovo. There are significant differences between Serbia as a whole and the Province of Kosovo. While the degree of urbanisation in Kosovo was 32.5% before the conflict, Serbia had 48% urban inhabitants in 1991. Serbia had a total housing stock of 1.65 million units in the same year, compared with only 230,000 for Kosovo. Among other aspects, this is reflected by the inhabitants of Kosovo having only half the average floor area per person available to their Serbian counterparts.
A similar situation can be observed in the coverage of infrastructure and services. On average, 88% of the inhabitants in the Republic of Serbia were connected to services such as sewerage, water and electricity. This figure was only 40% for the Province of Kosovo.
These figures show that while human settlement conditions for Serbia as a whole were adequate, the Province of Kosovo had lower standards of housing and quality of settlement infrastructure. There are indications that this difference, and the overall deterioration of settlement conditions, was intensified during the decade preceding the conflict, thus increasing the vulnerability of the Province to the events of March-June 1999.
III. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS OF THE BTF TECHNICAL MISSIONS AND DESK ASSESSMENT GROUP
The Joint UNEP/UNCHS (Habitat) Balkans Task Force (BTF) organised five Technical Missions to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The missions took place with the co-operation of the local authorities and with the assistance of the United Nations Liaison Office in Belgrade and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Each of the missions was composed of an international team of independent technical specialists, supported by BTF and UNEP/UNCHS (Habitat) staff. In addition, an independent 'Desk Assessment Group' was assigned to address the issue of depleted uranium, building on the work of the preliminary fact-finding mission.
1. Principal environmental 'hot spots' visited by the missions
The BTF 'Industrial Sites' and 'Danube' missions visited twelve locations (in Serbia and Kosovo) regarded as potential 'hot spots' of special environmental concern as a result of damage sustained during the NATO air strikes. At some locations, visits were made to more than one targeted facility.
Time and resource considerations meant that it was never feasible for BTF teams to visit every location targeted during the conflict. The final choice was made by the BTF on the basis of all available information, including NATO and Yugoslavian news releases, eyewitness reports by journalists and local people, NGO websites, and consultation with technical experts within and outside FRY. During the site visits, numerous soil, sediment, water, air and biota samples were taken. These were analysed either on-site, using mobile laboratories, or at laboratories in Denmark, Germany and Hungary. Wherever possible, discussions were held with site managers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
This section presents information on the four locations which, on the basis of the field visits and laboratory test results, have been identified by the BTF as 'hot spots' of special environmental concern. At all four of these locations (Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Bor), it was occasionally difficult to be sure of the precise extent to which observed environmental pollution or contamination resulted directly from the air strikes, since evidence of longer-term environmental damage was also found. However, in every case, there are serious environmental issues, requiring immediate action. The problems identified have important implications for human health and welfare and should therefore be addressed in the framework of humanitarian assistance after the conflict. The BTF Chairman has already informed the Yugoslavian authorities of the most serious findings, notably at Pancevo and Kragujevac.
1.1.1. Main concerns:
Serious leakages of 1,2-dichloroethane (EDC) and mercury; burning of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) to form dioxins; burning of 80,000 tonnes of oil & oil products releasing sulphur dioxide and other noxious gases; high concentrations of EDC found in water of canal running into the Danube; high concentrations of mercury and petroleum products in the canal sediments.
1.1.2. Background information
Pancevo, a town of about 80,000 inhabitants, is located on the left (eastern) bank of the Danube river, approximately 20 km north east of Belgrade. A major industrial complex, including a petrochemical plant, a fertiliser plant, and a major oil refinery, lies on the southern edge of the town. An artificial canal, 1.8 km in length, carries wastewater and stormwater runoff from the complex directly into the Danube.
The fertiliser plant does not have any industrial wastewater or stormwater treatment facilities. Effluent from the plant is discharged directly into a collection channel and subsequently to the open canal. Effluent from the petrochemical plant and the oil refinery initially flows into a sewer channel and undergoes treatment in a wastewater facility before discharge into the canal.
The industrial zone was heavily targeted during the conflict, with two air strikes on the 'HIP Petrohemija Pancevo' petrochemical complex and the 'HIP Azotara fertiliser plant in mid-April, and seven attacks on the 'NIS' oil refinery between April and June. Much of the town's population was said to have been temporarily evacuated following the strikes of 17/18 April.
As a result of the air strikes, various hazardous substances were released into the environment, either directly from damaged storage facilities, or as a result of fires, with the most obvious visual impact being the dense clouds of black smoke which poured from burning installations. Yugoslavian media reports after the strikes of 17/18 April spoke of an unfolding environmental disaster, and 'ecological catastrophe'. This theme was taken up by TV, newspapers and websites (both inside the FRY and internationally), which highlighted the health fears of Pancevo residents concerned about inhaling toxic fumes and worried about the safety of their food and water supplies. As a consequence of the smoke, 'black rain' fell on the area around Pancevo, heightening concerns about human health and long-term damage to crops, soil and groundwater.
In July, the New York Times quoted a NATO spokesperson as saying, "NATO had two types of targets. There were tactical and strategic targets. The oil refinery in Pancevo was considered a strategic target. It was a key installation that provided petrol and other elements to support the Yugoslav army. By cutting off these supplies we denied crucial material to the Serbian forces fighting in Kosovo. When targeting is done, we take into account all possible collateral damage, be it environmental, human or to the civilian infrastructure. Pancevo was considered to be a very, very important refinery and strategic target, as important as tactical targets inside Kosovo".
The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Yugoslavia reports that "the most serious environmental consequences" occurred after the attack of 17/18 April, due to the release of toxic substances from burning oil products at the refinery and burning vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) at the petrochemical plant.
A statement released by the Director General of HIP Petrohemija on 21 April reported fires, explosions and release into the air, soil and Danube of a range of hazardous substances, including EDC, PCBs and ammonia. The statement also reported that petrochemicals were still burning on 21 April.
Pancevo was visited by two of the BTF missions; namely those dealing with Industrial Sites and the Danube River. The first mission visited the petrochemical plant, fertiliser plant and oil refinery between 20 and 25 July. Discussions were held with the site managers, other local stakeholders (including the Mayor and environmental NGO representatives) and the Institute of Public Health of Belgrade. Air, soil, sediment and water samples were taken. The second mission visited the complex on 25 August, in order to take water, sediment and biota samples from the canal and from adjacent sections of the Danube river, both upstream and downstream of the canal mouth. The BTF experts on this mission also met with the manager of the HIP Petrohemija wastewater treatment plant.
In the light of information gathered during the two visits, the BTF reached the following conclusions concerning the main substances of concern:
· At the petrochemical plant, 2 100 tonnes of ethylene dichloride (EDC) leaked into the soil and into the wastewater canal. EDC is toxic to both terrestrial and aquatic life.
· Also at the petrochemical plant, 8 tonnes of metallic mercury leaked, of which an estimated 200 kg reached the canal. BTF experts found an estimated 50 -100 kg of metallic mercury lying on the concrete floor of a factory. Once released into the environment, metallic mercury can be converted into an organic form, methyl mercury, which is toxic and builds up in the food chain.
· 460 tonnes of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) burned at the petrochemical plant. This would have released dioxins, which are highly toxic, hydrochloric acid, carbon monoxide, PAHs and possibly phosgene into the air. However, with the exception of one 'hot spot' in the immediate vicinity of the VCM fire, the BTF team recorded only low levels of dioxins at Pancevo.
· The air strikes on the oil refinery caused an estimated 80,000 tonnes of oil and oil products to bum. This would have released noxious substances into the air, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS) and lead.
· As a preventive measure, about 250 tonnes of liquid ammonia was released into the open canal from the fertiliser plant by site managers fearful a direct air strike on stored ammonia could kill large numbers of people. This release was probably responsible for fish kills reported in the Danube, up to 30 km downstream. Fertiliser production prior to the air strikes had been accelerated in order to minimise the quantity of ammonia in storage.
· PCB concentrations recorded at the complex were low and did not indicate contamination from damage during the air strikes, or from previous accidental spills.
The contamination identified is considered to be a hazard to the health of workers at the complex and to the terrestrial and aquatic environment.
It was evident to the BTF team upon visiting the site that the plants employed 1960s and 1970s technology. Whilst no information on levels of contamination of the area prior to the conflict appeared to be available, a local NGO provided a list of accidents which had occurred at the industrial complex during the past 25 years. Local councillors reported that workers at the plant had suffered from so-called 'Pancevo cancer'. BTF experts considered this illness was most likely to be angiosarcoma of the liver, resulting from exposure to high levels of VCM.
1.1.3. BTF samples and results
According to preliminary analyses carried out by BTF experts, the macro-invertebrate fauna in the Danube just upstream of Pancevo was similar to that found much further upstream, at sampling sites in Novi Sad. 21 taxa were identified, of which most were mussels and snails. The number of taxa decreased sharply downstream of Pancevo, where only eight living taxa were identified. The sampling site with the lowest number of taxa was at the outlet of the canal. Only six taxa were found; all of them in very low numbers, indicating serious pollution from the canal.
Other analyses have shown that water and sediment samples taken from the canal contained very high levels of EDC (for example, a level of 5,960 mg/l was found in a water sample from the canal). The results also indicate that EDC is still being released into the Danube from the canal. Surface water samples downstream of the canal, s confluence with the river showed EDC concentrations of 65 mg/l and 37 pmg/l. These levels are considered very high; for example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) limit for EDC in drinking water is 10 mg/l.
Very high levels of chlorinated solvents, including EDC, were found in both shallow and deep groundwater samples. The deep contamination would have occurred prior to the conflict, and it is likely that the entire aquifer is affected. It is probable that contamination with these chemicals resulted from PVC production at the complex. Whilst samples taken from upstream drinking water abstraction points were not contaminated, there is a possibility that Pancevo's municipal supply could become contaminated in the future. More research would be needed to assess the degree of risk.
Analysis of the sediment core taken from the canal suggests that oil released as a result of the air strikes had added a layer of acute contamination to an area already affected by chronic petrochemical pollution. Similarly, whilst high mercury values in the surface layers of the core sample indicated recent input of mercury to the canal, a second peak, three times higher than in the surface layer, but at a depth of 60-80 cm, was most likely the result of past mercury spills. The chronic pollution by mercury and oil products was confirmed by the results from analysis of mussels (Anodonta anatina) collected from the Danube upstream and downstream of the canal. Mercury increased from 0.15 to 0.22 mg/kg dry weight of mussel tissue, whereas the PAHs (Borneff-6) increased from 4.7 to 56.4 mg/kg dry weight. Benzo(a)pyrene, alone, increased from 0.9 to 23.0 mg/kg dry weight (the latter figure is about four times higher than the relevant FAO food safety standard).
1.2.1. Main concerns:
Zastava factory: high levels of PCBs and dioxins on paint shop floor; high levels of PCBs around power plant transformers; contaminated water tanks; inadequate storage and treatment of toxic waste; PCBs detected in Lepenica river.
1.2.2. Background information
Kragujevac, a central Serbian industrial town of 150,000 inhabitants, is the home of the 'Zastava' car factory, formerly one of the biggest industrial facilities in the entire Balkan region. A large percentage of people living in Kragujevac depend on the factory, directly or indirectly, for their livelihood. At one time, Zastava had 36,000 employees in Kragujevac, producing over 30,000 cars a year. More recently, loss of markets and competitiveness, together with the effects of the economic embargo, have resulted in output dropping to less than half this figure. The factory provides a number of secondary products and services, including heating for a significant part of the town. The factory is located on the banks of the Lepenica river, a small tributary of the Velika Morava, which in turn flows into the Danube some 60 km downstream of Belgrade. The Zdralica river is also close to the factory.
The Zastava complex was targeted twice during the conflict, on 9 and 12 April. Heavy damage was inflicted to the power station, car assembly line, paint shop, computer centre and truck plant. Some parts of the factory were completely destroyed, and production was halted.
The air strikes reportedly caused extensive environmental pollution, with damage to soil, water and air. The main problems reported were the leaking of several tonnes of PCBs (contained in transformer oil) into the Morava river, and contamination of groundwater by PCBs and heavy metals. According to Zastava personnel, up to 2,500 kg of oil containing PCBs was released into the environment as a direct result of the air strikes, and underground water tanks below the factory were polluted with transformer oil containing PCBS.
The BTF 'Industrial Sites' mission visited the Zastava plant on 22 July. Discussions were held with factory management representatives, who provided a written report on environmental damage resulting from the NATO airstrikes. Two locations were investigated in detail, namely damaged transformers at the power station and paint shop (where leakage of transformer oil containing PCBs had been reported).
The factory managers stated that, prior to the conflict, the Zastava Group had operated a very active environmental management system, accredited under the ISO 14000 environmental management quality standard. Clean-up work started immediately after the air strikes, with the intention of resuming production as soon as possible. A target had been set for production of 5,000 cars before the end of 1999.
At the power station, two transformers were damaged during the air strikes. At the time of the BTF visit, both transformers had been removed and placed in a concrete storage area assigned for hazardous waste.
According to factory staff, only one of the transformers had contained PCB oil, but this had spilled onto the surrounding concrete floor and into the wastewater collection system. The concrete around the transformer had clearly been cleaned efficiently, since there were no visible traces of oil. The workers implementing the cleanup operation were reported to have been equipped with protective clothing. The sand used to absorb the spilt oil is now stored in four 200-litre barrels in an area reserved for hazardous waste.
BTF experts were informed that the factory is storing a further 5-6 tonnes of waste oil containing PCBS, as well as 300 tonnes of waste paint. This hazardous waste, generated before the conflict, also requires treatment, but no suitable facilities exist within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The clean-up and reconstruction operations will increase the amount of hazardous waste.
The paint shop was heavily damaged during the air strikes, with only the external walls and roofing girders remaining. The roof itself and the interior of the paint shop were destroyed, and some areas showed signs of fire. At the time of the BTF visit, the factory staff had already started to remove rubble and debris prior to reconstruction. Two transformers inside the paint shop had leaked oil, but the directly affected area had not yet been cleaned. Whilst paints and solvents burnt after the air strikes, the fire apparently did not reach the transformers. BTF experts took oil samples from the concrete floor around the transformers, but unsafe debris prevented access to the transformers themselves.
There are five concrete water tanks (total estimated capacity up to 7,000 m3) beneath the paint shop, some of which contained water at the time of the air strikes, whilst others were empty and being used for storage. One of the tanks is close to the area where transformer oil was leaked. According to the staff, solvents, paints, and PCBs had spilled into the reservoirs. The water tanks form a closed system, with no direct external connection. BTF experts took two samples to assess the presence of pollutants in the water, and specifically to check for PCBs originating from the leaked transformer oil. Earlier analysis by Yugoslavian experts had Indicated transformer oil levels of 0.7 mg/l.
According to Zastava personnel, up to 2,500 kg of transformer oil was lost during the air strikes and either evaporated, burned, or spilled into the soil and wastewater system. It was suggested that PCBs and other pollutants flowed into the wastewater channel, and from there into the Lepenica river, due to damage of the water treatment plant. According to the local authorities both the rivers in Kragujevac were relatively clean before the air strikes. They assume that PCBs from the Zastava factory entered the rivers, especially the Lepenica, although drinking water analyses carried out since the conflict have not detected PCBS.
1.2.3. BTF samples and results
At the power station, the samples taken from the concrete wall around the transformers and next to a nearby wastewater gully both contained very high levels of PCBs (>1 g/kg), with the tested material containing up to 50% PCB oil. It can also be inferred that some of the PCBs entered the wastewater system. This part of the factory should therefore be considered as an environmental 'hot spot', with potential adverse effects on human health, as well as on the wider environment. A sample of the oil trapped by sand and stored in barrels was found to contain traces of PCBS. Tests confirmed that only one of the two transformers had contained PCB oil.
The samples taken at the paint shop (two samples from the floor around the transformers; one at a distance of 10 m) contained high levels of PCBs and dioxins. The German action level for industrial sites is exceeded by a factor of ten in the case of dioxin/furan, and the level of concern for PCB is exceeded by a factor Of 1,000. These results confirm that this part of the factory is also a serious environmental 'hot spot'. BTF experts estimated that the affected area covers some 400-500 M2 of the concrete floor of the paint shop. Due to evaporation of its volatile components, the toxic residue is extremely viscous, requiring the breaking up and removal of the concrete floor to which it is stuck. Chemical 'finger printing' indicated that the dioxins originated from the leaked transformer oil.
The samples from the upper part of water tanks under the paint shop did not confirm the presence of PCBS. However, air samples from directly above the water indicated the presence of paint and filler solvents. It remains possible that parts of some tanks could be contaminated by PCBs from toxic paint and filler used in former times, or transformer oil from earlier leakages. In any case, BTF experts concluded that the tanks were probably already polluted at the time of the air strikes.
In order to investigate reports of possible PCB contamination of the Lepenica and Velika Morava river system, the BTF Industrial Sites mission took sediment samples from the Lepenica river 4 km downstream of the Zastava factory. A relatively high PCB concentration was found at this site (2.4 mg/kg, compared with the German quality objective for rivers of 0.06 mg/kg), but chemical fingerprinting showed a markedly different profile from the PCB contained in the transformer oils at the Zastava complex. Nickel and chromium were also found in concentrations above German quality objectives for rivers. BTF experts believe that these metals and PCBs are likely to have originated at the car factory.
The BTF Danube mission subsequently took water, sediment and blota samples from several sites on 27 August. Yugoslavian experts reported that a major flood had occurred in June, and that the water level around the confluence of the Lepenica and Velika Morava had been some 2 m higher.
Three sampling sites were chosen by the BTF Danube mission: (a) mouth of Lepenica; (b) upstream of the Lepenica/Velika Morava confluence; (c) downstream of the Lepenica/Velika Morava confluence.
Preliminary analysis of macro-invertebrate fauna suggests that the Lepenica has been adversely affected by pollution from Kragujevac, since the number of taxa is much lower than in the Velika Morava. The number of taxa found in the Velika Morava was higher upstream of the Lepenica confluence, than downstream.
The results from analysis of the water and sediment samples indicated PCB pollution at the mouth of the Lepenica and in the Velika Morava downstream of the Lepenica confluence. The PCBs in the Lepenica reached 18.7 ng/l, about 10 ng/1 higher than in the Morava river. PCBs (sum of seven cogeners) were not detected in the Morava sediment upstream of the Lepenica confluence, but a level of 22 mg/kg was measured downstream and 52 mg/kg in the mouth of the Lepenica.
Bankside sediment samples from the Lepenica showed high levels of mercury, but this is comparable with the results from the Morava upstream of the Lepenica confluence. The PCB concentration in the sediments from the Lepenica bank and at the mouth of the Lepenica indicates that PCBs had recently been carried by the Lepenica. Detailed analysis concurred with the findings of the Industrial Sites mission that the composition of the PCBs from the Lepencia differed from that of the transformer oil, but that the Zastava complex remained the most likely source of contamination.
1.3 Novi Sad
1.3.1. Main concerns:
Risk that groundwater polluted with petrochemicals from oil refinery could enter drinking water wells; general concern over siting of wells close to refinery.
1.3.2. Background information
With 180,000 inhabitants, Novi Sad is the second largest city in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It is located on the Danube river, approximately 70 km north west of Belgrade, in the district of Vojvodina. Novi Sad was heavily targeted during the conflict, with rail and road bridges across the Danube destroyed (together with water pipelines carried by the bridges), and industrial and military facilities damaged or destroyed. One of the principal targets was Novi Sad oil refinery.
The refinery is located on the left bank of the river, 3 km to the north of the city centre and just 2 km upstream of bank filtration wells used for the city's water supply. A shipping canal, with loading and unloading facilities for barges, runs along the southern edge of the refinery directly into the Danube. A system of artificial collecting channels within the refinery compound takes surface runoff to the Danube, via a wastewater treatment plant equipped with oil separators.
The groundwater table beneath the refinery is located only 1-2 m below the surface, and there is no protective barrier to prevent the possible flow of contaminated groundwater towards the bank filtration wells in the event of an oil spillage or other pollution incident. Such a barrier was reportedly planned, but never built. BTF experts, who visited Novi Sad on 23/24 July (Industrial Sites mission) and 24 August (Danube mission), were concerned that drinking water wells had been located so close to the refinery in the first place, and that no special protection measures appeared to have been implemented.
The refinery complex consists of production facilities and storage tanks for crude oil and oil products (mainly gasoline and diesel fuel). More than two-thirds of the 150 tanks were directly hit or seriously damaged by debris during at least twelve NATO air strikes (in the period 5 April - 9 June), and many consequently caught fire or leaked oil and oil products. Nevertheless, technicians were reportedly able to transfer some of the leaking substances to intact storage tanks, thereby reducing leakage into the soil and ground-water. Prior to the air strikes, the refinery staff also removed certain oil products that could be harmful to human health if spilt or burnt, such as transformer oil containing PCBs. Production was also accelerated to use up as much as possible of the crude oil, intermediate products and additives, and the final products were shipped to other locations. The remaining oil was mixed with gasoline, so that the tanks would ignite if hit, rather than leak into the soil and groundwater.
Air pollution is routinely monitored by the Novi Sad Institute of Public Health, and measurements were continued during the conflict. Some of the monitoring data were made available to BTF experts. As a result of fires following the air strikes, parts of Novi Sad and the surrounding districts experienced concentrations of both sulphur dioxide and airborne particles of several hundred mg/m3 during the fires. However, such concentrations probably did not persist for more than a few hours, since the fires were of relatively short duration, and the direction of the wind was variable. At times, concentrations probably exceeded recommended air quality standards. During the conflict period, the health authorities advised the people of Novi Sad to wash food thoroughly, and not to eat food carrying soot deposits.
About 73,000 tonnes of crude oil and oil products are reported to have burnt or leaked. Local experts estimate that 90% were burnt, with the remainder having leaked into the wastewater collection canals or into the ground.
The Danube was reported to have been heavily contaminated immediately after the air strikes, due to the outflow of crude oil and oil products through the refinery's wastewater collection system. The chief engineer of the refinery told BTF experts that it was very difficult to estimate the actual amount of oil and oil products discharged to the Danube, but that about 130 tonnes of oils had been recovered from the cooling water pumping station at the outflow of the wastewater channel. Fishing was banned in the whole Vojvodina district during the time of the conflict.
Field inspection during the July BTF mission showed the refinery wastewater channels to be filled with crude oil and oil products. In the storage area, crude oil could be seen on the ground due to leakage from damaged tanks, whilst some of the concrete slabs underlying the tanks were cracked and broken. Oil could also be seen in some groundwater-filled bomb craters in the central part of the complex. Visual inspection was also made at a small shallow pond in a low-lying area some 30 m outside the refinery compound, in the direction of the bank filtration wells along Danube. No oil film could be seen on the surface of the pond, and the aquatic flora and fauna appeared to be intact. Similarly, there was no visible oil contamination of the riverbanks or water surface next to the bank filtration wells.
A spokesperson at the city's water management plant told BTF experts that since the conflict, the eight bank filtration wells close to the refinery had provided 60% of Novi Sad's drinking water. The cutting of pipelines across the Danube meant that the right bank had been isolated from the treatment works; water from wells on this side of the river could not be treated, and 50,000 citizens were no longer receiving piped water. Immediately after the bombing of the refinery, two of the nearby wells were closed as a precautionary measure. Steps were also taken to clean 13,000 m2 of ground around the wells, and one of the closed wells had subsequently been re-opened. During the August BTF mission, the municipal Institute of Public Health reported that one well remained closed due to "slightly elevated" mineral oil levels.
On 23 August, the BBC World Service carried a report by the Yugoslav news agency, stating that Novi Sad refinery had resumed limited production of kerosene and diesel for use in schools, hospitals and agriculture.
1.3.3. BTF samples and results
During the BTF Industrial Sites mission, soil gas and/or groundwater samples were taken from eight different locations, both inside and outside the oil refinery compound. Analysis showed that two of the groundwater samples, and one of the soil gas samples from within the refinery compound contained very high levels of volatile hydrocarbons, indicating the presence of free-phase oil (probably gasoline) on top of the groundwater. Other samples taken within and around the compound showed minor levels of volatile hydrocarbons.
Groundwater samples were also taken from the inflow to the infiltration gallery nearest the refinery wastewater treatment plant, and from the outflow pipe taking water from the infiltration galleries to the municipal waterworks for treatment. Analysis of these showed low- or very low-level contamination of groundwater by volatile hydrocarbons.
During the August BTF mission, samples were taken from five sites: (a) Danube left bank upstream of Novi Sad (planned as a reference site for other samples, as the conflict is not thought to have resulted in any significant pollution between the Hungarian border and Novi Sad); (b) Danube left bank just upstream of the canal; (c) Danube left bank downstream of Novi Sad; (d) in the canal very close to its confluence with the Danube; (e) within the refinery compound.
Interestingly, there were relatively high concentrations of PCBs and PAHs in the bottom sediments upstream of Novi Sad. This was unexpected, as this part of the Danube was reported to be relatively free of pollution, and would not have been affected by the air strikes on the refinery. It seems likely that the results derive from older, chronic pollution of the river. There was no significant difference in mercury levels in the Danube sediments upstream and downstream of Novi Sad (both low), but a significantly higher value was recorded for the canal sediment. Water samples from both the Danube downstream of Novi Sad and from the canal showed insignificant levels of mercury, and total petroleum hydrocarbons.
According to preliminary analysis by BTF experts, the macro-invertebrate fauna sampled upstream of Novi Sad was characteristic of the Middle and Lower Danube. 13 taxa were identified. Downstream of the refinery, 17 taxa were identified, suggesting that there has been no major adverse biological impact (at least in the short term) from pollution after the air strikes. Indeed, BTF experts speculate that the enforced shutdown of the refinery may even have led to local improvements in the aquatic environment, due to a possible reduction in chronic pollution.
Based on field observation and results from sample analysis, the BTF concluded that there was no evidence of significant adverse impacts on the Danube aquatic environment as a result of air strikes on Novi Sad refinery. It is thought that most of the oils and oil products released were burned and that no significant volume entered the river.
1.4.1. Main concerns:
Severe air pollution from sulphur dioxide emissions; evidence of chronic environmental damage from copper mine; localised PCB contamination at transformer station.
1.4.2. Background information
Two areas were visited by the BTF Industrial Sites mission on 24 July, namely the copper mine and smelting plant outside Bor (a town of 40,000 inhabitants in eastern Serbia), and the nearby 'Jugopetrol' oil depot. These facilities were targeted during NATO air strikes on 15 and 17 May.
The copper industry in Bor consists of a huge open-cast mine and associated smelting plant. During the air strikes, the transformer station providing the site with electricity was damaged. Originally, it housed three large transformers and 160 capacitors, but one of the transformers was emptied and removed prior to the air strikes. The remaining two transformers each contained 25 tonnes of oil. Between 80 and 100 of the capacitors, each holding approximately one litre of oil, were destroyed. According to industry sources, the transformer oil did not contain PCBs, whereas the oil in the capacitors did. This was subsequently confirmed by BTF analysis. At the time of the BTF visit, some capacitors were still on the ground around the transformer station, but most had been removed and dumped.
Other parts of the complex were reported to have escaped serious damage, but the air strikes on the power plant, and consequent reduction of the electricity supply, had interrupted production of sulphuric acid - a by-product of the copper industry. This had resulted in chronic release of sulphur dioxide gas, normally recovered during the manufacture of sulphuric acid. The BTF team could already smell sulphur dioxide several kilometres from the plant, whilst after 15 minutes at the site itself, the whole group started coughing. Based on the limited information available, the team estimated that emissions could be in the order of 100,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide per year. However, more detailed information is needed to make a more reliable assessment. Representatives from the University of Belgrade confirmed that pollution from sulphur dioxide gas and heavy metals had been recorded previously at the site.
The sediment of the river Bor is reportedly 'hard-paved' from the deposition of iron pyrites (FeS2), whilst the area's soil and surface water was said to be contaminated with heavy metals as a result of decades of mining.
Although no detailed information is available, BTF experts consider the chronic emission of sulphur dioxide from the copper mine to be a serious environmental impact. As Bor is close to the border with Bulgaria, these emissions may have had transboundary effects, according to wind direction. Immediate actions should be taken to reduce the emissions. Reports received through the website of the Bulgarian News Agency indicate that the transboundary Timok river has a history of chronic and acute pollution from the copper mine. A major pollution episode at the end of June 1999 was linked to discharge of wastewater from the mine.
The 'Jugopetrol' oil depot, which mainly served the Bor copper industry, was completely destroyed during the air strikes. However, all eight storage tanks were reported to have been emptied shortly before they were hit. Because the oil depot was empty, only minor fires occurred and no oil was spilled. Nevertheless, some transformers at the depot's electrical station had been damaged or destroyed.
1.4.3. BTF samples and results
In order to test for the presence of PCBs at the power plant of the copper mine, BTF experts took a sample from one of the damaged transformers, but no PCBs were found. A second sample, from the soil under one of the leaking capacitors revealed PCBs contaminated with dioxins and furans.
Soil samples (from various depths) were taken from a field next to the oil depot and a sediment sample was taken from a small stream below the site. A further sample was taken from the soil beneath a leaking, damaged transformer at the electrical plant.
The stream sample, taken to assess background levels, revealed extraordinarily high concentrations of heavy metals, notably copper, but also cadmium, arsenic, lead and zinc. BTF experts concluded that these concentrations are not related to damage from the conflict, but are more likely the result of long-term industrial pollution.
The soil sample from near the damaged transformer showed a high content of PCBs (300 mg/kg) and low levels of heavy metals.
2. Environmental impacts of the conflict on the Danube River
During and immediately after the Kosovo conflict, one of the principal environmental concerns highlighted by the media and NGOs was the possible damage to the Danube river.
Since most of the key industrial facilities targeted during the air strikes are located either alongside the Danube (e.g. Novi Sad, Pancevo), along major tributaries such as the Sava (e.g. Baric), or on smaller tributaries such as the Lepenica and Morava (e.g. Kragujevac), there were fears that large quantities of hazardous substances could have entered the Danube system, posing risks for people in Yugoslavia and, downstream in Bulgaria and Romania, through drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated fish. The Danube is also one of Europe's most important corridors of biodiversity, meaning that any adverse impacts on human health would almost certainly be accompanied by serious effects on plants and animals and the habitats on which they depend.
The Danube Basin covers 817,000 km2 of 17 Central European countries, and the river therefore receives chronic and acute inputs of nutrients and pollutants from an enormous number of industrial, agricultural and municipal sources. Widespread concern over the unfavourable environmental status of the Danube led to the establishment of the Convention on Co-operation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River (also known as the Danube River Protection Convention -DRPC). The DRPC entered into force in October 1998 and, at the time of writing, there are 11 Contracting Parties. It provides the legal basis for international co-operation for environmental management of the Danube Basin.
Implementation of the DRPC is assured through the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and supported by the Environmental Programme for the Danube River Basin (EPDRB). The latter programme was launched in 1991 by the Danubian countries, international organisations, financial institutions and NGOs. Amongst the initiatives established under the EPDRB and co-ordinated by the ICPDR are the Transnational Monitoring Network (TNMN) which provides common standards for the monitoring of key water quality and quantity parameters throughout the Danube Basin. Unfortunately, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is not a Party to the DRPC, and, although there have been technical-level contacts with ICPDR, the FRY does not participate formally in the work of the ICPDR or the TNMN.
Many of the findings of the BTF complementary mission on the Danube river, organised in close co-operation with ICPDR, have already been reported in earlier sections of this chapter. However, it is worth emphasising here the general conclusions of the mission:
· There is no evidence of an ecological catastrophe for the Danube as a result of the air strikes during the Kosovo conflict.
· However, there are some serious hot spots where contamination by hazardous substances released during the air strikes poses risks for human health and the aquatic environment. BTF recommendations relating to these hot spots should be implemented immediately.
· There is evidence of long-term chronic pollution of the Danube in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Part of this pollution stems from other Danube countries, but inadequate treatment and storage of hazardous waste products within the FRY is also a significant source of contamination.
· There is an urgent need for the FRY to be integrated within international frameworks for water quality monitoring, pollution reduction and emergency response.
3. Depleted uranium: findings of preliminary fact-finding mission and Desk Assessment Group
Depleted uranium (DU) is a waste product of the process used to enrich natural uranium ore for use in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Compared to natural uranium which has a U-235 isotopic content of 0.7%, the isotopic content of U-235 in DU is partially depleted to about a third of its original content (0.2%).
DU is extremely dense and therefore used in the tips of bullets designed to pierce armour plating. It may also be used in cruise missile nose cones and has been used in the armour of tanks. In addition to its density, DU is also used in military applications because of its relatively low price (e.g. in comparison with tungsten alternatives) and the fact that it is available in huge quantities. Due to the pyrophoric nature of uranium metal and the extreme flash temperatures generated on impact, particles of uranium oxides are formed. Studies have shown that a high percentage of these particles may be of 'respirable' size, i.e. particles that can be inhaled into the deep areas of the lungs. Concerns about the human health implications of exposure to DU are related to both its radiological and chemical properties.
During and after the Kosovo conflict, there were regular media reports that DU had been used in military operations by NATO. Consequently, there are concerns amongst the people of Serbia and Kosovo regarding the possible post-conflict risks to human health and the environment. These concerns are also relevant for assessing the security of field staff from the UN and other international agencies.
A U.S. Department of Defense news briefing on 3 May 1999, appeared to confirm that depleted uranium weapons had been used by U.S. forces in the Balkans. It was reported that DU shells had been fired from A-10 aircraft. However, it is not known whether U.S. forces fired cruise missiles that contained DU. It is also not known whether other NATO forces used DU weapons in the Balkans. The present state of knowledge regarding DU use in Kosovo and possibly in Serbia is that neither the quantity of DU weapons used, nor the locations of any targets hit by DU weapons, are known. At the time of writing, the BTF has not received any official document confirming whether or not DU was used during the conflict.
3.2 The Desk Assessment Group
As part of the BTF process, a special international expert group, the 'Depleted Uranium Desk Assessment Group' was appointed to address the issues raised, whilst recognising that health concerns would be more comprehensively assessed by the World Health Organisation.
The group also recognised that scientific evidence is still relatively weak in some areas of the debate surrounding DU, but noted the readiness of the international scientific community to further investigate these issues.
Since little or no information was available on the actual use of depleted uranium in the Kosovo conflict, the expert group was forced to rely on available published information. During a 'fact finding mission' organised by BTF, preliminary radiation measurements were taken from destroyed military vehicles, and from around the heavily damaged Police Station and Post Office in Pristina. Whilst no indications of contamination from depleted uranium were found, this does not exclude the possibility that there are DU-contaminated areas in Kosovo.
Through the use of available information, a hypothetical scenario was described, based on a number of conditions and assumptions. By this means, all possible exposures to depleted uranium were discussed and conclusions drawn about their significance.
Since the assumptions have not been verified, the results are subject to some uncertainty. The conclusions and recommendations are therefore framed conservatively.
On the basis of known facts, and the results of the assessments made, the Desk Assessment Group reached the following conclusions:
Lack of official information from NATO confirming that DU was or was not used during the Kosovo conflict distorted the prerequisites for the group's work.
With the given conditions and assumptions, the significant risks are restricted to a limited area around the target. If the depleted uranium is dispersed to larger areas, the corresponding risks are reduced.
If contaminated vehicles and apparent accumulations of uranium pieces and dust are removed from the target area, the possible risks of significant exposures are related to a few specific circumstances that could be avoided by provision of adequate information and instructions.
The possible contamination of land from depleted uranium is not an obstacle to moving back to those villages and regions that were affected by attacks, and at which DU ammunition may have been used, providing that certain recommendations are taken into account.
During and immediately after any attack where depleted uranium was used, some people in the immediate vicinity may have been heavily exposed to depleted uranium by inhalation. The extent of this possible problem might be verified by special health examinations. This is applicable also to potentially affected individuals who are no longer in the area.
The results of these analyses are general in nature and, therefore, applicable not only to Kosovo but also to other areas targeted during the conflict.
A more thorough review is required of the health effects of medium- and long-term exposure to DU.
4. Consequences of the conflict for biodiversity
In a European context, the Balkan region has long been recognised as being of exceptional value for the conservation of biological diversity. The richness of flora and fauna is due to a variety of factors, including the region's location at the junction of several bio-geographical areas; its variety of climate, geology and topography; and the still-widespread practice of traditional, low-intensity land uses. The territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is certainly an important component of the overall richness of Balkan biodiversity. More than a third of all European flowering plants, about half of the fish species, and two-thirds of the bird and mammal fauna have been recorded in the FRY. Approximately 5% of Serbia and 8% of Montenegro are included in officially designated protected areas, such as National Parks, Nature Parks, and Nature Reserves.
During and immediately after the conflict, media reports, NGO web sites and official statements by the Yugoslavian authorities regularly referred to serious damage inflicted by air strikes in protected areas. For example, according to a Yugoslav news agency release carried by the BBC on 17 April, the Serbian Ministry of Environmental Protection said that "damage inflicted to ecosystems and habitats of endangered species (in Kopaonik National Park) was irreparable". A booklet entitled 'Natural Heritage Under Bombs', produced in August 1999 by the Serbian Institute of Nature Protection, contains text and photographs cataloguing air-strike damage to protected areas. Whilst these air strikes were often characterised by Yugoslavian sources as outright targeting of natural heritage, NATO stated that only military and strategic sites (especially hilltop telecommunications towers) had been targeted within protected areas.
In view of the international conservation significance of the region and the alarming reports received, it was decided that one of the Balkans Task Force technical missions should be dedicated to assessing the impact of the conflict on biodiversity, notably in protected areas. The sites to be visited were determined by the BTF, on the basis of inputs received from international conservation bodies (e.g. IUCN), discussions with the Yugoslavian authorities (e.g. Serbian Institute for Nature Protection), media reports and assessment of the security situation in Kosovo. KFOR advised against visiting protected areas in Kosovo due to the presence of uncleared minefields and unexploded ordnance. The BTF mission took place from 7-13 September, with an international team of biodiversity experts visiting sites in Serbia and Montenegro.
4.2 General findings
Direct effects of air strikes
The physical damage from the air strikes is significant within limited areas, but of relatively minor importance when seen in relation to the overall size of the protected areas and the ecosystems which surround the hit sites. Fires started by the air strikes were localised, and nothing approaching a significant forest fire was seen. It was not within the capacity of the team to measure the possible chemical residues in and around craters. Fragile ecosystems, such as the alpine grassland in Kopaonik, are likely to take longer to recover than more robust forest ecosystems.
Unexploded ordnance is both an immediate safety issue (risk to staff working in protected areas) and a possible long-term constraint to future tourism in and around protected areas. A decrease in tourism could reduce income for conservation management activities, as well as threaten the livelihoods of local people involved in traditional harvesting and use of natural resources.
Social, economic and administrative disruption are likely to cause an increase of pressure on natural resources, both within and outside protected areas (e.g. increased use of wood for cooking and heating, due to loss of electricity supplies). Tourism, and the income it generates will also be reduced, though, it should be recalled that development of skiing infrastructure in Kopaonik had been reported as a conservation problem. Experience from reconstruction activities in other Balkan countries shows that future reconstruction in Yugoslavia will place heavy demands on raw materials (e.g. gravel, rock, wood products, water). The Federal authorities responsible for telecommunications facilities within protected areas formerly paid rent to the protected areas concerned (though reportedly not for facilities located in Montenegro). The future of these financial contributions is unclear.
5. General conclusions about effects of air strikes on biodiversity
· Genetic effects: at this time, there is no evidence indicating that biodiversity in the protected areas visited is significantly affected at a genetic level. However, this issue was not specifically addressed by the BTF mission.
· Species effects: at this time, there is no evidence indicating that biodiversity in the protected areas visited is significantly affected at a species level. The status of several endangered plant species on mountaintop sites damaged during the air strikes may have to await a multiple-season assessment.
· Ecosystems effects: at this time, there is no evidence indicating that biodiversity in the protected areas visited is significantly affected at an ecosystem level. No riverine protected areas were visited by this team, but effects on riverine ecosystems from conflict-related pollution were covered by the BTF 'Industrial Sites' and 'Danube' missions.
· Institutional effects: a general conclusion of the BTF team is that conservation of biological diversity in the FRY has suffered from the consequences of the conflict and the economic embargo. The institutional framework is weak and under-resourced, whilst increasing isolation from international programmes and mechanisms has severely limited transboundary co-operation.
6. Special considerations in relation to Kosovo and human settlements
The conflict seriously affected human settlement conditions in both the Republic of Serbia and the Province of Kosovo. To a lesser degree, settlements were also affected in neighbouring Albania and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, mainly through the over-use and deterioration of infrastructure and services caused by the influx of refugees from Kosovo. While the most visible effects of the conflict were the destruction of housing, public buildings and infrastructure facilities, there were equally dramatic and perhaps more long-lasting effects on the institutional systems responsible for the administration of human settlements and environment, especially in the Province of Kosovo.
The destruction of housing and the complete disruption of public utilities such as water supplies and wastewater disposal contributed to the rapid deterioration of living conditions in the area of the conflict. Failing to improve this situation before the winter arrives will further exacerbate declines in health and environmental conditions. Furthermore, due to the exodus of Serbs from the Province, Kosovo lost practically all of its experienced personnel from local authorities and utilities. The Province is presently confronted with the challenge of rebuilding a minimum system of local administration to undertake emergency activities and move towards environmentally sustainable development.
6.2 Establishment of the UNCHS (Habitat) team in Kosovo
The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is the body established by the UN Secretary-General to administer the Province of Kosovo on an interim basis. UNMIK has four pillars of operation: Humanitarian Activities (UNHCR), Civil Administration (UN), Institution Building (OSCE) and Reconstruction (EU). UNCHS (Habitat) activities are being developed primarily under the umbrella of the Civil Administration pillar.
An initial rapid assessment was carried out by UNCHS (Habitat) in June-July 1999. The mission focused its analysis on: damage to housing and settlement infrastructure; municipal administration; property rights and regularisation; and property registries/cadastre.
The BTF carried out a thorough assessment of the environmental policy, legal and institutional framework in Kosovo.
At the time of the mission the EU, USAID (OFDA), UNHCR and UNDP had already begun activities on the evaluation of damage to housing and infrastructure. These organisations also plan to start emergency reconstruction activities. In this regard, it was decided that the UNCHS (Habitat) mission should not duplicate the work of these organisations on the assessment of housing damage. A brief position paper on the reconstruction of urban housing was submitted to the EU for consideration. Further activities in this area will be subject to the co-ordinating institution for UNMIK's 'Reconstruction pillar' requesting UNCHS (Habitat) support.
6.3 Findings of UNCHS (Habitat) team in Kosovo
According to assessments carried out in Kosovo , 120,000 houses were damaged in the 29 municipalities of the Province. Estimates for Serbia put the damaged units in the range of 50,000. Most of the damage to housing and buildings in Kosovo has been caused by fire but also by gunfire and artillery. The levels of destruction vary considerably from area to area. It is estimated that over 40,000 units are beyond repair and need complete replacement.
In addition, facilities for public services such as education, health-care, water supply, waste management and electricity have also suffered damage although of lesser magnitude. Roads have not suffered much in direct damage but they have been degraded due to lack of maintenance in recent years and during the conflict. IMG estimates that the damage to housing amounts to EUR1.1 billion. The cost of the damage to basic infrastructure (education, health, energy and water) is estimated at EUR40 million. Most of the reconstruction effort now is focused on emergency repairs to provide a minimum of shelter during the winter. Broader post-emergency housing and infrastructure rehabilitation strategies are currently under development by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in collaboration with other national and international organisations.
Environmental and human settlement issues are closely inter-related, since aspects of environmental management (e.g. waste treatment, sanitation) rely to a large extent on efficient municipal administration and a functioning system of property registration. Hence, there has also been great damage through the collapse of the administrative systems that enable environmental services to function. The assessment of conditions in Kosovo indicate that issues such as the administration of the housing sector and property transactions and ownership; property registries and cadastre; spatial planning and municipal administration are at the core of the continuous deterioration of conditions in Kosovo. Between 1995 and June 1999, public administration in the Province was controlled by Serbian personnel and excluded the full participation of Albanians. This contributed to the overall deterioration of administrative and physical conditions.
According to the former Co-ordinator of the Cadastre Centre in Kosovo, 80% of the cadastral information was removed from the Province prior to or during the conflict. However, the initial assessment carried out by UNCHS (Habitat) covering information on over half of the 29 municipalities in the Province indicates that there is a large body of information on property registration and associated records. The assessment has shown that only a few municipalities have a functioning digital cadastral system. No digital maps are available and only a few copies of printed cadastral maps are to be found. There are other documents/records related to the cadastre that can be used to verify and correlate information on ownership and boundaries; these documents are, however, dispersed in several locations and need to be classified and inventorised.
Most municipal cadastral offices are presently not operating due to the lack of records, staff and equipment. In the absence of access to this information it is impossible to conduct normal transactions in real estate and, more importantly, to target assistance for housing reconstruction. Urgent action is required to start the development of a comprehensive and modern cadastre that will be vital to support UNMIK in resolving property-related disputes, bring the real-estate market back into operation, and provide a basis for sound environmental management.
On the issue of property tenure and transactions, the assessment has found that the Province lacks a legislative and policy framework on housing and property consistent with accepted international standards. There is a large number of irregular housing and property transactions brought about by the application of discriminatory legislation. This is compounded by the rapidly growing number of unlawful housing occupations and forced property sales.
As serious as these problems are, the people of Kosovo have no formal legal remedies allowing the regularisation of housing and property transactions and relations. The housing and property sectors are currently almost unregulated and this must change if democracy and the rule of law are to prevail in the Province. While the local judiciary and municipal governments may eventually be able to provide some of the required solutions, their capacity appears insufficient and the establishment of an ad hoc mechanism to deal with these issues is considered necessary.
Regarding the municipal administrations, the assessment found that management structures in the province need urgent revision. There is not much clarity on the responsibilities of the municipalities and there are many overlapping functions within their structures. Their capacity for effective co-ordination and setting priorities is weak, and accountability too diffuse. The same vertical model structures are currently being proposed through Kosovo regardless of the size of the municipality or of actual staffing requirements. There are no municipal revenue-generation mechanisms in place. The current lack of charges for utilities will potentially create a non-payment culture the longer it continues. The lack of a functioning licensing system means that the municipalities totally lack an income base and control over illegal behaviour.
Lack of effective local administration also affects environmental management. In addition to there being a lack of local expertise on this issue, UNMIK has yet to develop effective capacity, linked with other levels and sectors of the civil administration, in this field.
The following recommendations are aimed at highlighting activities that are urgent to halt or mitigate the further degradation of the state of the environment in FRY, and diminish the risks to human health.
The main responsibility for clean-up efforts rests with the FRY authorities. Nevertheless, the international community must be ready to take action when urgent humanitarian needs are in question, or when and where the democratic development of the entire region could be enhanced.
An unhealthy and dangerously polluted environment does not provide a sound basis for the well-being of human populations or for business and trade. However, the implementation of the recommendations will not only depend on the availability of funds; political concerns related to the international embargo of Serbia will also have to be taken into account. In the current context, international assistance for reconstruction will only be available for the Republic of Montenegro and Province of Kosovo. However, the hot spots of special environmental concern identified in Serbia will require immediate action from a humanitarian point of view.
The recommendations made by BTF are based on the findings of the technical field missions, Desk Assessment Group, and extensive discussions within an international network of individual experts and organisations. They also take into account ongoing initiatives, such as the projects implemented by FOCUS.
The recommendations distinguish between short-term actions aimed at immediate clean-up, and longer-term recommendations, also taking institutional strengthening, reconstruction and resumption of industrial activities into account. Normal economic activities, including production at some of the contaminated sites, have begun to resume. This could aggravate the situation, and the BTF emphasises that clean-up and careful handling of contaminated material has to be given a particularly high priority at these sites.
1. Industrial Sites
The first four paragraphs refer to all of the heavily contaminated industrial sites; specific recommendations for the major hot spots follow.
1. Detailed groundwater studies and monitoring of drinking water should be conducted to determine whether pollution has contaminated sources of drinking water (this recommendation should be implemented for all of the hot spots -Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Bor - and other sites potentially at risk).
2. Surface soil contaminated with heavy oil, PCBs, heavy metals and other hazardous substances should be given remedial treatment and, if necessary, removed from all industrial sites (i.e. Pancevo, Kragujevac, Bor, Novi Sad, Baric, Kraljevo, Nis, Novi Beograd, Obrenovac region, Prahovo and Pristina), and securely stored.
3. A detailed waste disposal plan should be developed and implemented for every site, and for the FRY as a whole. Immediate action should be taken for the secure storage of hazardous waste (including medical waste), even if facilities for its final treatment or disposal are not yet available.
4. Monitoring of air, water, soil, agricultural products and human health, as well as communication of the results of such monitoring to the population around all industrial 'hot spots', should be continued, and, if necessary, increased.
5. Pancevo: urgent remedial action should be taken at the wastewater canal heavily contaminated with EDC and mercury. Immediate clean-up of the mercury spill at the petrochemical factory should also be implemented. Detailed recommendations are to:
a) consider the wastewater canal as an environmental hot spot, with special risk to the aquatic environment of the Danube, and implement the following measures as soon as possible:
· complete isolation of the canal water and sediments from the Danube by construction of a physical barrier (alternative wastewater facilities to be implemented at the same time);
· removal of oil attached to the banks and vegetation along the canal and around its confluence with the Danube (to be done before next Danube flood period);
· detailed mapping of EDC, oil and mercury distribution in the canal;
· use of a suction dredger to remove the bottom sediments contaminated with EDC (based on the results of EDC mapping) ;
· secure disposal of the contaminated sediments.
b) remove and securely store the metallic mercury on the floor of the petrochemical plant; recover as much of the main spillage as possible by suction, and use chemical binding to assist with removal of residual quantities.
c) implement in situ remedial actions to clean up the groundwater which is highly contaminated with chlorinated solvents.
d) clean collector channels at the oil refinery to prevent further potential contamination of the Danube with oil and oil products.
6. Kragujevac: at the Zastava car plant, action should be taken to improve storage of the significant quantities of hazardous waste generated by operation of the factory, as well as by the air strikes. Immediate steps should be taken to clean up PCB and dioxin contamination. Specific recommendations are to:
a) inform the managers of the site about the contaminated areas and associated risks, in particular with regard to the security of workers conducting the clean-up operations;
b) remove the concrete floor of the paint works with extreme care and as thoroughly as possible to a depth of at least 5cm;
c) place the PCB- and dioxin-bearing deposits and the broken concrete in secure, dry storage. Ideally, the material would be taken to a hazardous waste treatment facility;
d) empty the water tanks before any major clean up and reconstruction of the paint shop is considered. Carry out a more detailed study to gain additional information about the pollutants present in the different tanks. Do not release the water from the tanks into the river or wastewater system. Take urgent measures to prevent rainwater from increasing the volume of the tanks or causing them to overflow;
e) use available techniques to treat the polluted water in the tanks, for example through some type of filtration or through adsorbing materials (like active carbon or a peat bed).
7. Novi Sad: detailed studies should be carried out to determine whether oil and oil product pollution has contaminated the groundwater. Specific recommendations are to:
a) carry out further investigations within the refinery compound. Soil contaminated with heavier oils should be removed and disposed of under controlled conditions, using recovery technologies wherever possible. Soil and ground-water contaminated by lighter, more volatile oil products should be treated using in situ methods;
b) drill an observation well to confirm that free-phase gasoline is floating on top of the groundwater. Any floating gasoline should be removed using in situ methods, contaminated groundwater should also be cleaned up using in situ treatment;
c) continue abstraction from the well which was closed (well test and water quality sampling should also be carried out periodically), so that contaminating substances (oil, etc.) are also withdrawn, thereby reducing the risk of contaminating adjacent wells (hydrological barrier);
e) carry out appropriate tests to assess the hazard posed to the drinking water supply of Novi Sad through location of wells close to the oil refinery.
8. Bor: immediate action should be taken to prevent further releases of large amounts of sulphur dioxide gas in the atmosphere; damaged transformers and capacitors containing PCB oils should be removed and stored securely. Specific recommendations are to:
a) resume the production of sulphuric acid, thus binding the sulphur dioxide now released into the atmosphere;
b) treat the leaking capacitors and transformers, together with contaminated soil, as hazardous waste and deal with it accordingly.
2. Environmental impacts on the Danube
The result of laboratory analysis of samples taken from the Danube sediment and biota revealed significant chronic pollution, both upstream and downstream of the sites directly affected by the conflict. It is therefore strongly recommended that:
9. Follow-up monitoring be carried out with extension of the sampling to the confluence of major tributaries, e.g. Drava, Sava, Tisa and Morava rivers, as well as to the upstream (Hungarian) and downstream (Romanian - Bulgarian) reaches of the Danube.
10. An appropriate monitoring programme should be developed and implemented. This should be based on existing programmes but designed to be fully compatible with the ICPDR's TransNational Monitoring Network for the Danube River Basin.
11. Significant long-term efforts should be made to reduce both acute, point-source pollution and chronic pollution from industrial and urban effluent through investment in appropriate production and waste management processes.
3. Depleted Uranium
12. It is necessary to obtain information from NATO confirming if, how and where DU was used during the Kosovo conflict. This is a prerequisite for verifying initial risk assessments, making necessary measurements, and taking precautionary actions.
13. Further measurements should be organised as soon as possible to identify possible contamination and verify assumptions. Highest priority should be given to finding pieces of depleted uranium, heavily contaminated surfaces and other 'hot spots'. Measures should be taken for the secure storage of any contaminated material recovered.
14. A thorough review of the effects on health of medium- and long-term exposure to depleted uranium should be undertaken under the auspices of the World Health Organisation.
15. At places where contamination has been confirmed, measures should be taken to prevent access. The local authorities and people concerned should be informed of the possible risks and appropriate precautionary measures.
16. Appropriately designed health examination programmes should be established in areas where use of DU is confirmed.
17. Clearance of unexploded ordnance remaining in protected areas (primarily cluster bomblets) should be undertaken and measures implemented to issue warnings and restrict access to certain areas.
18. There is an urgent need to rebuild the nature conservation infrastructure and management system in Kosovo; as a first step, efforts should be made to recover all relevant information on biodiversity in the province.
Management and Monitoring
19. Management plans should be prepared and implemented for each of the damaged sites. The planning process should take environmental risks of reconstruction activities into account. The threats to national parks posed by tourism, changes in traditional land management practices and other legal and illegal economic activities should be assessed.
20. Priority should be given to establishment of the proposed Prokletije National Park, both because of its exceptionally high biodiversity and its significant potential role as a transboundary 'peace park' (Kosovo-Montenegro-Albania). Preparations and research on the Kosovo and Montenegro sectors were well advanced prior to the conflict.
21. Long-term monitoring of the impacts of the conflict on protected areas, including the effects of reconstruction activities, should be conducted.
5. Human Settlements Priorities for Action in Kosovo
22. Medium-term housing rehabilitation strategies should be developed in close consultation with local stakeholders. Given the particular conditions of Kosovo, such strategies should enable the recovery of local capacities in the construction industry, building materials production and the operation of financial systems. Establishing traditional programmes of assistance that will prolong Kosovo's dependence on external support.
23. An assessment should be made of the resources available within Kosovo, including the income due to remittances and trade, that can be put at the service of rehabilitation activities. Such assessments are absolutely necessary before a credible rehabilitation strategy is in place, both to ensure the maximum use of local capacities and to target such programmes to the most needy sectors of the population.
24. As part of BTF/UNCHS (Habitat) on-going support activities to UNMIK, medium-term technical support programmes should be developed in the areas of:
· production of guidelines and procedures for municipal administration;
· the regularisation of housing and property rights and the establishment of and independent mechanism to deal with these issues;
· the development of a cadastral information system and the upgrading of property registries and documentation.
6. Long-Term Institution Building
25. The capacities of the environmental administration in the FRY, the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Montenegro and the Province of Kosovo, as well as at the municipal level, should be strengthened by providing sound economic frameworks and targeted training activities.
26. The environmental Monitoring System in the FRY should be redesigned and strengthened at both the federal and local levels, focusing on water, air, biodiversity and human health, and, in particular, targeting environmental hot spots. The environmental information network should be strengthened by establishing an internationally (i.e. EEA, UNEP, international environmental conventions) compatible system.
27. The potential benefits of FRY participation and full integration, when political circumstances permit, in the work of international organisations and regional environmental processes (Environment for Europe, Danube Convention, etc.) should be recognised.
28. The private sector (business, industry) should be more involved in environmental planning and take environmental considerations into account during reconstruction and when taking up industrial activities.
29. The non-governmental sector should be strengthened; for example, by raising environmental awareness, improving access to environmental information and promoting greater involvement in environmental policy-making locally, nationally and internationally. This will strengthen civil society and contribute to greater stability of the entire region.
30. The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) should develop capacity on environmental issues and integrate environmental considerations into other components.