Friday, 8 October 2010

Eighteenth Sitting of the Environmental Protection Committee

At the sitting held on 8 October, the Environmental Protection Committee members debated the issues relating to the toxic sludge arriving down the Danube from Hungary.

At the sitting held on 8 October, the Environmental Protection Committee members debated the issues relating to the toxic sludge arriving down the Danube from Hungary.

The sitting, chaired by Cedomir Jovanovic, Committee Chairman, was attended by Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Oliver Dulic and associates, Assistant Minister of Interior Predrag Maric, as well as representatives of the Hydrometeorological Institute, Water Directorate, PE Serbia Waters and Provincial Secretariat for Environmental Protection.

At the beginning of the proceedings, Committee Chairman Cedomir Jovanovic stressed that there was no reason for public concern as regards the impact of the incident in Hungary on the environment in our country, that all the state institutions in Serbia, relevant for the issue, are functioning, but that the incident warns us not to neglect potentially similar situations at critical points in Serbia. He also added that nothing dramatic has occurred in Serbia which is evidenced by the water inspection of our section of the Danube, but that preventive actions are necessary in situations like this one.

Assistant Minister of Interior Predrag Maric briefed the Committee members on the case, stressing that the data at his disposal after the incident were contradictory and ranging from no danger of outflow of dangerous matter into the Danube, to saying that such a situation had in fact occurred. The effusion occurred 340 km outside of Bezdan. Serbian state authorities are in continuous operative cooperation with each other and their Hungarian counterparts and the prognosis says that the presence of toxic matter in the Danube on the territory of Serbia is not expected before Monday, says Maric. He added that there are three potential scenarios for the events after Monday: 1) the concentration of dangerous matter is diluted and is no longer a threat; 2) the concentration is such that part of the dangerous matter enters Serbia at which point the state authorities will warn the public and 3) the concentration is high so in addition to the warning the population will be provided with an alternative water supply. He added that the first scenario is the most likely, but as a precaution the other two should not be eliminated. The reaction plan will also be chosen over the weekend, depending on the development of the situation, Maric added.

Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Oliver Dulic told the Committee members that on the day the accident occurred in Hungary, 6 October, a water sample was taken from the Danube whose analysis for the presence of heavy metals would be treated as sample zero. He stressed that the water is measured in 134 places in Serbia and that the Hungarian wave is expected to enter Serbia in the next couple of days. The first control which the Hungarian authorities are to implement near Budapest and the first measures they undertake will set the grounds for Serbia’s action plan. He commended the coordination of all the state authorities in the process and stated that the accident should not have a considerable impact on the environment. If it does, the public will be given recommendations on the use, collection and destruction of fish in line with regulations. He restated that so far human life and the environment in Serbia are not in jeopardy and appealed to everyone not to alarm the public with unsubstantiated and incorrect information and again asked for the use of official information on the case.

The short debate on the item touched on the issues of the assistance Serbia offered Hungary, information on the payment of the damages other countries would suffer due to the accident, keeping the public timely and correctly informed on the events, as well as convening a Committee sitting to discuss the problems in Pancevo and the 250 “black” spots in Serbia.

Following the debate, the Committee members unanimously concluded that they endorse the work of the state authorities tasked with monitoring the situation, that the Committee’s task group should continue its work and coordination with the state authorities on the case, that the Committee sends condolences to the representatives of the Hungarian Parliament’s Environmental Committee on the victims of the accident and that the situation serves as a reminder of all the crisis spots in Serbia.

Committees related to this activity

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