Published: Monday 15 November 1999

The United Nations (un) has asked for immediate steps for cleaning the River Danube of wastes generated by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (nato) bombing. Water from the Danube is used for drinking purposes in the downstream nations Romania and Bulgaria.

According to Pekka Haavisto, head of the United Nation Environment Programme's (unep) Balkans Task Force, although the nato bombing had not caused an environmental catastrophe in the Balkans it, however, poses a danger to the health of people living in four 'hot spots'. "There are environmental risks to Bulgaria and Romania if we do not clean-up the waters of the Danube in Pancevo and three other hot spots," he said, adding: "It is important to ensure the safety of the environment in order to avoid long-term ecological damage."

Meanwhile, a unep team looking for pollution after the 11 weeks of nato bombing has identified the 'hot spots' as Novi Sad and Pancevo situated in the north of Belgrade and Kragujevac and Bor in central Serbia. These places have been worst affected by the bombing, and cleaning the pollution from these areas is expected to cost over us $20 million.

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