Results of the First Meeting of the Baia Mare Task Force

Report
from European Union
Published on 14 Mar 2000
Brussels 14/03/2000 - The Baia Mare Task Force, set up by Commissioner Wallström following her visit to the site of the cyanide spill in Romania held its first meeting in Brussels today in the offices of the European Commission.
In opening the meeting, Commissioner Wallström declared: "Since my visit to the site of the serious accident in Baia Mare I am pleased to see that thing are moving rapidly and that concrete actions are taking place. The latest incident in Baia Borsa has underlined the great importance and urgency of the work of this Task Force. It also demonstrates the need to strengthen our capabilities for civil protection "

She added: "The make-up of the Task Force reflects the great concern about environmental pollution across the spectrum, from civil society to governmental institutions. I am sure that each member of the Task Force will contribute to the maximum in fulfilling its mission and will come to conclusions by the end of this year. The Task Force must ensure that the public is well informed about its work"

At the meeting the Task Force agreed on the practical implications of its remit:

Establish what happened and apportion the causes of the spill as precisely as possible.

Assess the damage and propose actions to remedy the negative impacts. It will take a longer-term view on what needs to be done to restore ecological balance to the effected areas. It cannot become involved in any consideration of 'compensation' as such.

Keep the public informed through a two way process of communication, working through established and recognised NGOs.

Identify other 'hot-spots' in the mining and extractive industries.

Make suggestions to reduce further risks and if necessary recommend whether (in the opinion of the members of the Task Force) the existing regulatory framework is adequate.

The Task Force also agreed on an outline plan for future work and timetable:

A United Nations report giving results of their on-site assessment will be studied by the Task Force after its publication in early April. This meeting is scheduled for the 17 April.

This will be followed up by discussions with representatives of civil society and governments.

The final report from the Task Force will be made public on completion by the end of the year.

The Chairman, Tom Garvey, announced that he would visit the scene of the accident on 27/28 March, meet with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) later that same week and visit Hungary on 31 March.

The secretariat of the Task Force will be established shortly in Vienna. In the meantime as a temporary facility an e-mail address (env-danubetf@cec.eu.int) and hotline (+32.2.299.66.60) have been set up. Other information relating to the Task Force can be found on the DG ENV web page at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/enlarg/home.htm