For information only - not an official document.
Note No:   83
Release Date:   15 March 2000
UN/ECE Chief Calls on Countries to Sign Treaty
 Minimizimg Environmental Impact of Industrial Accidents

 (Following article was published in Daily Highlights DH/3096, 14 March)

 NEW YORK, 14 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE), Yves Berthelot, today appealed for more countries to join a key treaty seeking to minimize the cross-border environmental impact of industrial accidents.

 In a statement welcoming the entry into force next month of the UN/ECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, Mr. Berthelot called on those countries not yet party to the Convention to ratify and implement it as soon as possible. "This will ensure that in the future more industrial accidents are prevented and the impact of those that do happen can be limited," he said.

 The recent cyanide spill into the Danube in northern Romania that spread pollution to downstream countries "clearly demonstrates the threat that industrial accidents pose to our environment and the need for countries to work together to improve industrial safety," Mr. Berthelot added.

 The Convention obliges its signatories to identify "hazardous industrial operations" and assess risk so as to ensure that they operate safely and that precautions are taken to prevent accidents.

 Hazardous operations should also be sited where they are the least likely to have an impact on the environment. Neighbouring countries need to be told about such operations and the hazards they pose so that cross-border contingency plans can be drawn up. The Convention, which has already been ratified by 16 countries and the European Union, also includes a system of notification in the event of accidents.

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