Limited laws

Published: Monday 31 May 1999

toxic waste from metal mining poses a major threat to environment and human health across Europe, and existing laws can do little to solve the problem, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature ( wwf).

The waste storage lagoon which burst at Boliden Limited's Los Frailes zinc mine in Spain, which polluted the Donana National Park, a year ago could just be the tip of the iceberg, warned Jane Madgwick, wwf 's expert on freshwater pollution.

"Heavy metals like arsenic pose a serious hazard to people, wildlife and the environment. They are lethal even at low doses," said Madgwick. According to her, there are evidence of spillages and severe pollution of river basins in five European countries.

wwf has set out a five-point plan to avert another Donana-type disaster. It said the European Commission should draw up an inventory of toxic waste stores in Europe -- so-called "tailing lagoons" -- to fill a severe gap in accurate data. The European Union should develop safer ways of disposing of toxic waste and ensure that existing rules are being properly put into practice, said Madgwik.

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