Hungary + 2 more

UN to assist Hungary immediately with new industrial spill from Romania

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Jointly issued by UNEP and OCHA

PRESS RELEASE

Geneva, 13 March - On 11 March Hungarian government requested the Joint UN Environment Programme/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNEP/OCHA) Environment Unit to provide urgent assistance following a new spill of pollutants from a mine near Baia Borsa in northern Romania. The spill, which reportedly contained high levels of zinc and lead, occurred in the same region as the cyanide spill from the Baia Mare mine six weeks ago.

The Hungarian government has asked for an independent sampling and analysis of the environmental impact of the new spill. Several rivers, including the Vaseu in Romania and Ukraine and the Tisza river in Hungary, are reportedly affected.

Immediate action has been taken by the Joint UNEP/OCHA office, which has contacted the Swiss Disaster Relief (SDR) agency for assistance. Today, OCHA, in close cooperation and coordination with UNEP is dispatching a UN Disaster Assistance Coordination (UNDAC) team. The team will be led by a senior staff member of the disaster response branch of OCHA and will include three highly qualified experts from Switzerland, nominated and financed by the Swiss authorities.

The joint UNEP/OCHA mission will spend two days in Hungary taking samples in the field and will meet officials as required. The mission will fully coordinate its work with experts of the government and other partners, including the European Commission. The mission leaves Hungary on Thursday 16 March.

Note to journalists. For more information, contact:

In Geneva: Anders Renlund, UNEP Press officer, on +41 22/917 8272, email: renlunda@unep.ch, or Donato Kiniger-Passigli, OCHA Press officer on +41 22/917 2653, email: kiniger-passigli@un.org

In Nairobi: Robert Bisset, Office of the Spokesman, on +2542/623 084, email: Robert.Bisset@unep.org