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  • 18.02.00 : Tisza cyanide spill must not recur
  • 17.02.00 : Danube/Tisza: A special Website "Toxic Spill" setup by WWF
  • 11.02.00 : Cyanide from Romania spill reaches Serbia downriver (Reuter)
  • 11.02.00 : Latest Toxic Spill: WWF Call Went Unheeded
  • 10.02.00 : Gabcikovo/Slovakia : Will ABB also profit from the economic problems of Slovakia?
  • 10.02.00 : Toxic Mine Waste Fouls Eastern European Rivers
  • 09.02.00 : Gift-Unfall verseucht Fluesse in Rumaenien und Ungarn
  • 09.02.00 : Daugava River Basin to be managed within the Water Framwork Directive
  • 04.02.00 : Call for the Second World Water Forum & Ministerial Conference 17-22 March 2000 The Hague
  • 01.02.00: Tschechien/Elbe: 2 neue Staustufen projektiert


Pressreleases / Text :

18.02.00 : Tisza cyanide spill must not recur
HUNGARY: February 18, 2000 SZOLNOK - EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom toured the cyanide-devastated Tisza River yesterday and promised to start work immediately on a plan to prevent such catastrophes ever happening again.
fore more Information see Reuters ENS Newspage

17.02.00 : Danube/Tisza: A special Website "Toxic Spill" setup by WWF

11.02.00 : Cyanide from Romania spill reaches Serbia downriver


Serbia said a cyanide spill from a Romanian gold smelter reached its territory yesterday after flowing downriver through Hungary for ten days. "The tip of the pollution spill has been monitored entering our territory," said a statement of the Serbian Agriculture, Forestry and Watermanagement ministry carried by state media. "The ministry warns all users of the waters, the population living along the banks of the river Tisa that water cannot be used for any purposes, nor can the fish," the statement said. Romania acknowleded a cyanide spill occured on January 31 when massive snowfalls damaged a dam at the Aurul gold smelter in Baia Mare but said the situation was under control. An official of the Romanian environment ministry said cyanide levels of 700 times the normal had been recorded. The Tisza river flows from Romania into Hungary and then into Serbia, where it is called the Tisa. In Serbia it joins the Danube through a system of canals. In Hungary the spill had forced towns along the Tisza to close their water intake systems and has killed fish, birds and other wildlife. Belgrade officials said they did not expect the cyanide levels to be dangerous by the time the spill reaches Yugoslavia.


11.02.00 : Latest Toxic Spill: WWF Call Went Unheeded

The environmental disaster unfolding in Romania and Hungary is just the latest of a series of accidents involving toxic mining waste, warned WWF. Recommendations for action made by WWF a year ago have not been acted on by the European Commission. On January 30, the dam of a mining lagoon in north western Romania broke. Cyanide waste and other toxic effluent have affected over 300 km of the rivers Lapus, Somesul (Hungarian: Szamos) and parts of Tisa (Tisza) in Romania and Hungary, leaving them effectively ‘ecologically dead’. Drinking water wells are also contaminated. WWF considers metal mining activities to be a major threat to freshwater ecosystems in Europe. Almost two years ago, an ecological disaster affecting the Guadiamar river and the Doñana wetland in southern Spain lead to costs of over 100 million Euros, when more than 5,000,000 m³ of toxic sludge and acid waters spilled from the broken tailings lagoon at Los Frailes Mine near Aznalcóllar. In April 1999, WWF published a report, "Toxic waste storage sites in EU countries", with important information on toxic waste lagoons associated with metal mining, including: * Evidence of significant pollution problems caused by leaks and spillages from toxic waste lagoons associated with metal mining in Sweden, Spain, Italy and Portugal and the UK. * The location of toxic waste lagoons associated with major metal mines in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Ireland and Portugal, and major sites of metal mining in Finland, Greece, Austria and France where the method of waste disposal is unknown. * The almost complete absence of public information on the location of toxic waste lagoons and their human and environmental risks. * Incomplete regulation of mining activities and inadequate legal protection of wetlands from pollution effects. WWF made a series of recommendations at that time: 1. For the European Commission to compile a full list of lagoons of toxic waste from metal mining, known spills and badly polluted sites, including in EU accession countries, where regulations are weaker; 2. For a European action programme to assess the risks and improve the construction of these lagoons and develop safer methods of mine waste disposal; 3. For EU environmental law to be revised, clarified and strengthened to prevent spills and leaks of toxic waste from metal mines; 4. For European Environmental Liability law to cover all damages – including to biodiversity - caused by pollution from these lagoons; 5. To involve accession countries in any EU action on toxic waste lagoons. Jane Madgwick, Head of WWF’s European Freshwater Programme, said "Two years after the Doñana disaster, the European Commission has still not compiled an inventory of toxic waste lagoons. Instead it is talking about voluntary agreements with the mining industry when what is needed is regulation to prevent unacceptable environmental damage. The tragic cynanide spill into the Tisza river was a disaster waiting to happen. The only question is where will the next one strike?" Spokespeople contact details: Mark Vanderbeeken, Communications Coordinator, WWF European Freshwater Programme, +45 2124 8747 For details of the Romania/Hungary disaster: Gyorgy Gado, WWF-Hungary, +36 1 214 5554 or +36 1 212 3041 Website: For the full reports ‘Toxic Waste Storage Sites in EU countries’ and ‘Suggested action at the European Union level to prevent unregulated, accidental pollution from metal mining activities’ and more information on the Doñana disaster, see the website: r

Mark Vanderbeeken Communications and Partnerships Coordinator European Freshwater Programme
WWF International Ryesgade 3F - DK-2200 Copenhagen Main +45 3524 7841 - Direct +45 2124 8747

10.02.00 : Gabcikovo/Slovakia : Will ABB also profit from the economic problems of Slovakia?


Will ABB also profit from the economic problems of Slovakia? According to the Slovak press, ABB, the transnational dam building corporation, offered the Slovak Government its assistance in the operation of the Gabcikovo Water Works (GWW) as well as in the restructuring of debts of the Vodohospodarska Vystavba, the state-owned GWW project funder. This could potentially lead to the Slovak government subsidizing the profits of ABB while opening the doors for further destructive dam construction in the Slovak Republic. ABB is recognized as one of the leaders of the international dam industry. The company provides support for the world's most controversial dam projects, especially in the South where it takes advantage of innefective laws, a lack of democracy and its enormous political influence to get government guarantees on loans for dam projects. This results in the decapitalization of poor countries while at the same time brings huge profits for the company. Along with a number of large dams in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, the company is also actively involved in the Chinese mega-project the Three Gorges dam, which is to submerge 13 cities and more than 1,700 villages, leaving a minimum of 1.3 million people involuntarily relocated. The GWW is surely one of the most controversial investments in Slovakia's history. The project was designed and constructed by the Communist regime and completed and put into operation after the fall of the regime in contradiction to Slovak laws. It is believed that the GWW project has already cost US$1.5 billion, excluding the externalities, past accidents and expected expenses which will most likely soon be needed to fix its technical discrepancies. Vodohospodarska Vystavba is one of the most indebted companies in Slovakia. Unable to pay back even the interests of its foreign loans, Vodohospodarska Vystavba has repeatedly been in need of the implementation of the state gaurantees during the past few years. The GWW as a whole is not a profitable project, but its energy production, if it were to be legally separated from the rest of the project, would represent its only lucrative segment. Thus, Friends of the Earth-Slovakia, an association of civic organizations dealing with the development and human rights issues, fear that the Slovak Government may sell, or provide a long-term lease for the energy production of the GWW project to ABB in an attempt to rid itself of the troubled short-term loans. Friends of the Earth are frightened by the fact that, according to such a contract, Slovakia would be responsible for over-seeing the unhindered flow of water to the energy section of the GWW, controlled by ABB, which may then result in the further squandering of large public funds, e.g. for reconstruction and maintenance of the rest of the GWW. If such concerns are fulfilled, ABB would accept the contract with clear knowledge of the future financial profits while leaving Slovakia subsidizing such profits from public funds. At the same time ABB would successfully open the door for other dam projects in Slovakia. Friends of the Earth call on the Slovak Government to prevent further funneling of resources from the country's economy. They, however, also call on the government to stop any preparation and construction of new dams until independent comprehensive assessments of the economic, social and environmental effects of the current dam projects are complete. Based on such assessments, the government must hold accountable those responsible for ruining the state by ineffective dam projects and immediately undertake a process of substantial ammendment of the state water management policy, as well as reform of the whole ineffective and bureaucratic system of water management administration.

For more information, please contact: Juraj Zamkovsky, tel/fax: +421-088-4193324, E-mail:

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH - SLOVAKIA Ponicka Huta 65, 976 33 Poniky, Slovakia tel/fax: +421-88-4193324 email: web: February 10, 2000

10.02.00: Toxic Mine Waste Fouls Eastern European Rivers

by Andrew Darby PERTH, Australia, February 10, 2000 (ENS) - A spill from an Australian-Romanian gold processor's facility is being blamed for widening environmental devastation in Romania and neighboring Hungary. The spill from the Aural Gold smelter's Baia Mare tailings dam in northeastern Romania is said to have occurred on January 30, but reports of its effects have only now begun to reach the West. A company statement said heavy snows caused an overflow of a dam wall. Waste water containing cyanide flowed into the adjacent Lapus River, then entered the Somes River, and crossed the border into Hungary, before reaching the Tisza River, one of eastern Europe's largest.

for more Information see ENS Environment News Service

09.02.00 Gift-Unfall verseucht Fluesse in Rumaenien und Ungarn

WWF: Ausmasse wie Katastrophe im spanischen Donana / Bevoelkerung durch giftiges Trinkwasser bedroht Rastatt, Budapest, 9. Februar 2000. Bei einer Giftkatastrophe im Nordwesten Rumaeniens sind etwa 100.000 m3 schwermetallhaltige Schadstoffe in Zufluesse der Donau geflossen. „Die Verseuchung hat aehnlich dramatische Ausmasse wie der Unfall im spanischen Nationalpark Donana vor zwei Jahren“, betonte Dr. Erika Schneider, Projektleiterin Donau im WWF-Auen-Institut. Am 30. Januar war der Damm des Auffangbeckens einer Goldmine nahe dem rumaenischen Ort Baia Mare gebrochen. Die Giftflut, kontaminiert mit hochgiftigen Cyaniden und Schwermetallen, ergoss sich in einen Zufluss des Someºs (ungarisch: Szamos). Von dort gelangte sie in die Theiss, den zweitgroessten Fluss Ungarns. Am 2. Februar erreichte sie Ungarn, wo inzwischen ueber 300 km Flussstrecke betroffen sind. „Im unteren Someºs und der oberen Theiss ist praktisch alles Leben erloschen“, beschreibt die WWF-Mitarbeiterin Schneider. Viele Anwohner, die ihr Trinkwasser aus diesen Fluessen beziehen, wurden gewarnt, in Kontakt mit dem Wasser zu kommen. Bei einem zweiten, aehnlichen Unfall am 7. Februar sollen ebenfalls cyanidhaltige Abwaesser, allerdings in geringerer Menge, ausgetreten sein. „Da die Fluesse zum Teil mit Eis bedeckt sind, ist eine weitere Verseuchung zu befuerchten, wenn das Eis im Fruehjahr taut und die verwesenden Fische das Wasser vergiften“, fuegte Schneider hinzu. „Es wird Jahre dauern, bis sich die Gewaesser wieder erholen werden“, urteilte die Biologin. „Moeglicherweise sind einige der Auswirkungen sogar irreversibel.“ Nach der Umweltkatastrophe im spanischen Donana im April 1998 hatte der WWF eine Studie ueber die Gefaehrdung von Fluessen durch Abwasserunfaelle im Bergbau erarbeitet. Darin forderte der WWF die EU auf, andere bedrohte Standorte zu ermitteln und Methoden fuer eine groessere Sicherheit zu entwickeln. Weitere Informationen erhalten Sie bei: Dr. Erika Schneider, WWF-Projektleiterin Donau-Delta, Tel.: 0 72 22/38 07-21 Anja Rech, Pressereferentin im WWF-Auen-Institut, Tel.: 0 72 22/38 07-14, Fax -99 E-Mail:,

09.02.00 Daugava River Basin to be managed within the Water Framwork Directive

The draft EU Water Framework Directive will be applied to the Daugava River Basin in Latvia. A temporary authority has been set up for the project, which is the hitherto largest bilateral co-operation project between Latvia and Sweden.

ERN (from Sweden Environment Newsletter)

04.02.00 : Call for the Second World Water Forum & Ministerial Conference
17-22 March 2000 The Hague, The Netherlands

more infos:

 From 17-22 March 2000, hundreds of water specialists, politicians, leading 
experts and top officials from all across the globe will convene in The 
Hague. The event will mark the conclusion to a long series of sessions 
during which thousands of concerned citizens addressed the water crisis 
that threatens us all. In The Hague a Vision will be unveiled projecting a 
scenario of how the world could look twenty-five years from now - if we 
take action today. A world with enough clean water for everyone. To 
implement this vision a plan of action will be announced, the Framework for 
Action. The key elements of the Vision address basic issues such as the 
right to water and sanitation; the challenging concept of more crops and 
jobs per drop; the essential water services provided by natural ecosystems; 
the risk of floods and droughts; the need for international cooperation and 
governance to better address water issues. The website provides detailed information on what you 
can expect in The Hague, an overview of how the Vision process has 
developed and useful information on how to register for the Forum yourself. 
The Second World Water Forum & Ministerial Conference promises to be a 
inspiring event and a launching pad for an entirely new approach to the 
earth's most precious resource: water.


01.02.00 : Tschechien/Elbe: 2 neue Staustufen projektiert
Presse- Mitteilung des BUND
Zwei Staustufen in der tschechischen Elbe vorgesehen
Umweltverbände kündigen scharfen Protest an

Die tschechische Regierung plant den Bau von zwei weiteren Staustufen  in der Elbe bis unmittelbar an die deutsch-tschechische Grenze. Das Raumordnungsverfahren wurde bereits eingeleitet. Wie von tschechischen Umweltverbänden zu erfahren war, ersucht die tschechische Regierung sowohl die Bundesrepublik Deutschland als auch die EU um Unterstützung. 
Von der EU erwartet die Tschechische Republik eine Förderung in Höhe eines mehrstelligen Millionenbetrages in DM im Rahmen des ISPA-Fonds. 

Die Umweltverbände BUND und NABU, der WWF und die Deutsche Umwelthilfe protestieren in aller Schärfe gegen eine Unterstützung des Elbausbaus durch die Bundesregierung und durch die EU. Eine Verwirklichung dieser Pläne wäre eine tragische Wiederholung all jener Fehler, die in der Vergangenheit an Rhein, Mosel und Saar gemacht wurden. 

In den neunziger Jahren hat die Bundesrepublik Deutschland den Bau von Staustufen in der Elbe verworfen, weil dieser sowohl ökonomisch als auch ökologisch nicht zu vertreten ist. Die Kosten für eine Stauregulierung der Elbe, so errechnete das Bundesverkehrsministerium, würden den Nutzen um das Zehnfache übersteigen. Hinzu kämen die verheerenden ökologischen Schäden, die ein Staustufenbau in der Elbe auslösen würde. 1996 wurde deshalb in der vom Bundesverkehrsministerium und den Umweltverbänden verabschiedeten Elbe-Erklärung vom Staustufenbau definitiv Abstand genommen. Mit dieser Erklärung wurde ein Prozess eingeleitet, der die Erhaltung und Verbesserung des ökologischen Potentials der Elbe vorsieht. 
Käme es dennoch zu einem Staustufenbau in Tschechien, würde sich der Ausbaudruck auf die deutsche Elbe massiv erhöhen. Außerdem stünde der gerade erst am 1.1.2000 ins Leben gerufene Nationalpark Böhmisch Schweiz schon wieder infrage.
Unsinnig ist ein weiterer Elbe-Ausbau nicht zuletzt auch deshalb, weil das vorhandene Schienennetz nicht im Entferntesten ausgelastet ist. 
Die deutschen Umweltverbände fordern das Land Sachsen, die Bundesregierung und die EU auf, sich von einer Kanalisierung der Elbe eindeutig zu distanzieren und keine Mark dafür auszugeben. Ein Missbrauch von EU-Strukturmitteln muss ausgeschlossen werden. 

Rückfragen unter: 039244 290 bzw. 0340 6510143
Dr. Ernst Paul Dörfler, Leiter des BUND-Elbe-Projektes 
Dessau, den 28.01.2000

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