INFORMATION ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF THE NATO AGGRESSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA

Belgrade, April 1999

The NATO attacks on FR Yugoslavia have, among other things, inflicted inestimable damage to the environment, put at risk human lives and health, flora and fauna, while all their adverse effects will only be felt in the long term.

The NATO aggression on Yugoslavia represents, among other things, a violation of the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development which says that war operations have a destructive effect on sustainable development and that environmental protection in the course of armed conflicts is governed by relevant international regulations (Chapter 24).

By engaging in war operations against FRY NATO has violated: the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer; the Montreal Protocol on the Substances Damaging the Ozone Layer; the UN Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on the Greenhouse Effect; the Conventions of the World Meteorological Organisation; the Bern Convention on the Preservation of Europe’s Wild Flora and Fauna and their Natural Habitats; the Convention on Biological Diversity; the Convention on Trans-Boundary Effects of Industrial Accidents; the Convention on the Control of Trans-Boundary, Movement of Dangerous and Other Wastes and their Disposal; the Convention on the Protection of the Danube; the Convention on the High Seas; the Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Shipping Vessels; the Convention on the Prevention of Pollution with Oil; the Convention on the Protection of World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage; the Ramsar Convention on Marshlands of International Significance as well as a host of other international regulations pertaining to environmental protection.

The relevant international organisations, which are the depositories of these Conventions (the UN Secretariat, UNEP, WHO, WMO and others), have not responded to the global consequences for the planet Earth, Europe and our Region, although they have registered them by way of their monitoring systems set up on the basis of relevant international treaties and protocols.

After this NATO aggression and war operations against Yugoslavia stop, it will be possible to put together all relevant data, which are now being collected and processed, and they will provide documentary evidence about the effects of the aggression on the environment which have already manifested themselves and been noticed in Yugoslavia as well as others that have not been immediately apparent.

 

GLOBAL EFFECTS ON EUROPE AND PLANET EARTH AS A WHOLE (OZONE LAYER, LONG-TERM GREENHOUSE EFFECT, ETC.) RESULTING FROM WAR OPERATIONS IN YUGOSLAVIA

Incessant and numerous flights by supersonic and other aircraft as part of war operations over a period of more than a month have had serious negative effects on the already depleted ozone layer around the Earth.

In addition, the use by NATO of thousands of tons of explosives in the space, of FRY and the fact that many chemical facilities, refineries, fuel tanks, warehouses of raw materials, intermediaries and finished goods have gone up in flames have had an adverse effect on the ozone layer and particularly on the greenhouse effect.

It is well known that the depletion of the ozone layer causes many changes in living organisms, and ultimately may cause an increase in the incidence rate of cancer and disruptions of the global nutrition chain. The gases that destroy the ozone layer are active over a long time period and are carried over long distances. They have the strongest effect in the northernmost and southernmost parts of the planet Earth where the ozone layer is the thinnest.

What this actually means is that the victims of the destruction of the ozone layer, i.e. the victims of the NATO aggression on Yugoslavia, are all inhabitants of Europe, while the biggest victims in the long term will be the populations of Northern Europe, the northern part of the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australian and south of Latin America.

The European public should be aware of the, fact that fuels used by warplanes and other aircraft contain a large number of highly-toxic substances (ainmotiium-perchlorat, nitro-glycerine, nitro-cellulose, polybutadien, polyurethane, polyvinyl-chloride, polystyrene, polyacrolyte, load-salycilate, lead-ethylhexoat, lead-stearate, metal nitrates, metal perchlorate, fluorine compounds, etc.) whose combustion is toxic and carcinogenic. As a result of combustion of these substances, nitrogenous oxides, chloric and other very harmful compounds are formed that destroy forests and vegetation and have a direct effect on human health as well. As a result of combustion of fuel stabilisers together with lead and fluorine compounds, fluorine radicals are formed which cause painful wounds and burns in humans and animals exposed to them.

Clouds of such combustion products are now moving above Yugoslavia and, subject to weather conditions in Europe, may cause large-scale ecological disasters throughout Europe.

Winds, surface and ground waters, troposphere and stratospheric layers of the Earth know no state boundaries.

 

CHEMICAL ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY WAR OPERATIONS IN YUGOSLAVIA AND THEIR EFFECT BEYOND YUGOSLAVIA’S BORDERS

A large number of civilian industrial facilities, which do not work for the Army, have been attacked and/or destroyed in the bombings by NATO forces. Destruction and damage to oil, oil processing and other processing industries is a kind of a chemical war that NATO is waging against Yugoslavia’s population by causing spills of harmful chemical substances from the Yugoslav facilities. The nineteen countries of NATO are committing an "ecocide" as it were against the population and environment of Yugoslavia.

At this moment, while the NATO aggression is still on, we are still in the process of collecting and processing relevant data but wish here to point out to the following industrial facilities in particular from among scores of those which have been bombed: the INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX PANCEVO (Nitrogen plant, Refinery and the Petrochemical plant) and the REFINERY NOVI SAD as the ecological effects of their devastation are at this moment most conspicuous. Actions against the oil-chemical complex in Pancevo have produced casualties and extremely high emissions of harmful and dangerous substances causing disastrous local as well as regional and even global environmental pollution. According to experts’ estimates, had the chlorine and ammonia tanks in the industrial complex Pancevo not been emptied prior to the very attack itself, this attack would have sounded the death knell for all the inhabitants of Pancevo (120,000) and its surroundings (Belgrade, with a population of 2 million inhabitants, is only 20 km. away).

The industrial complex Pancevo includes: the NITROGEN PLANT PACEVO (factory manufacturing nitrogen fertilisers), the REFINERY PANCEVO and the PETROCHEMICAL PLANT PANCEVO. The complex uses the Stouffer VCM production technology and in addition to vinyl-chloride-monomers in the plants are also present the fluids ethyl-endichloride, ethylene, chlorine., chlorine-hydrogen, propylene, etc. All these fluids have been released into the atmosphere, water and soil due to NATO bombing and now pose a serious threat to human health in general and to ecological systems locally and in the broader Balkan and European regions.

Some plants and warehouses have been directly hit and some destroyed in the resulting explosion and fire. The transformer station has also been heavily damaged releasing very toxic transformer oils. A large number of people have been injured, intoxicated and evacuated. The estimates are that some 70,000 people have been evacuated.

Experts claim that the concentration of toxic gases at the moment of impact after bombs had been dropped was 10,000 higher that the permitted level. The polluted clouds which were created after the bombing carried the products of combastion of VCMS, chlorine, chlorine oxides, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, petrol and petroleum products.

The Oil Refinery in Novi Sad, because of its location at the very bank of the Danube River in the open Pannonian plain, profes a particular threat to the environment. Considerable pollution has been and is being detected in the air and in other elements of the environment (water, soil and biota) and the inhabitants Iron the nearby area have been evacuated.

During the NATO aggression on Yugoslavia, several transformer stations have been gravely damaged. They have released extremely toxic transformer oils (pyralenes).

The representative of the Russian Ministry of Defence pointed out that the harmful by products of oil combustion in the hit refineries and chemical facilities had reached Poland and were about to reach Finland and that they may, depending on weather conditions, reach Hungary, Greece and Italy. The harmful effects of bombing will be felt for a long time to come and there will be an increase in the incidence rate of malignant tumours, lung, skin and other disease since the released toxic, basinful, explosive and inflammable substances have long-term carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic effects.

The neighbouring countries have not responded, with the exception of Greece, Some of them seem to be hiding the effects of war operations from their populations.

 

WATER POLLUTION AS A RESULT OF WAR OPERATIONS IN YUGOSLAVIA WITH TRANS-BOUNDARY EFFECTS (THE DANUBE RIVER, OTHER RIVERS, SKADAR AND OTHER LAKES, THE ADRIATIC SEA)

The harmful by-effects of oil combustion in the hit refineries and chemical facilities are already flowing along the international Danube River in the form of an oil spill that is 15 km long and about 400 m wide. We wish to recall that a litre of spilt oil pollutes at million litres of water.

The Danube River flows into the Black Sea.

The flora and the fauna of the Danube will not be the same after this NATO aggression. Dead fish have already been sighted on the Danube River in the vicinity of Veliko Gradiste.

A part of the surface waters polluted as a result of war operations belong to the catchjuent of the Aegean Sea, a part flow into the Adriatic and then into the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, the Adriatic Sea and Lake Skadar on the border with Albania (Lake Skadar is also a national park and a special nature reserve) are being directly polluted as a result of the presence of battleships ,And submarines, war operations and their consequences.

 

DESTRUCTION OF NATURE PARKS PROTECTED BY LAW AND OF YUGOSLAVIA’S AND EUROPE’S BIODIVERSITY

Some 1,700 particularly valuable natural resources have been protected in one way or another in the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. They, among other, include nine national parks (Mt. Kopaonik, the Tara River Basin, the Djerdap Gorge, Mt. Fruska Gora, Mt. Sara, Mt. Durmitor, Mt. Lovcen, Mt. Biogradska Gora, Lake Skadar), 20 regional parks, 122 nature reserves, 19 protected seacoast areas as well as some 1,000 plant and animal species adding up to some 10 percent of the Yugoslav national territory.

According to the UNESCO criteria, the following have been included in the world’s heritage list: the Durmitor National Park, the Kotor-Risan Bay and the Tara River Basin. Pond Obedska Bara and Lake Ludosko have been included in the list of internationally recognised waterfowl habitats.

It is a state of fact that NATO has intensively bombed and carried intensive war operations in certain: national parks (Kopaonik, Fruska Gora, Sara, Lake Skadar, etc.).

Last but not least, Europe’s hunting grounds, as well as bird and animal habitats, will undergo a change after these war operations.

 

THE EFFECTS IN YUGOSLAVIA AND EUROPE OF THE USE OF ARMAMENTS WITH RADIO-ACTIVE SUBSTANCES BY NATO IN ITS AGGRESSION ON YUGOSLAVIA

According to the available data, NATO forces used special ammunition containing impoverished uranium in bombing military and civilian targets in Republika Srpska. The calibre of this ammunition is 30 mm, it is fired mainly from cannon, jets type A-10 and probably "Tomahawk" cruising missiles. The mentioned missiles can penetrate a steel plate some 57 mm thick. The cores of these missiles are radio-active and the estimates are that their activity of Uranium 238 amounts to eca 3.4 MBq. According to our and international regulations uranium belongs in the group of toxic elements and has been classified in the second group of radionucleides of very high toxicity. This type of ammunition is nuclear waste and its use is a crime against humanity and international law. The effects on the population are terrible because in addition to injuries and destruction of body tissue it causes radiological contamination. This contamination produces toxic and radiation effects which cause cancer. Tile use of this type of ammunition, which has reportedly been used in NATO actions in Yugoslavia, is inhumane and totally unjustified.

It is noteworthy that some Tomahawk missiles and artillery ammunition contain a reinforced coating made of impoverished uranium.

In view of the above, the UN, the EU, the OECD, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other political and humanitarian organisations should take action in order to have, this type of ammunition in Nato’s war operations in Yugoslavia banned.

The use of ammunition with impoverished uranium in the future course of Nato’s aggression on FRY would have even more adverse effects resulting in a large-scale ecological disaster and long-term effects on human health (Leukaemia, cancer, congenital anomalies, etc.).

When armaments with impoverished uranium are used they produce uranium oxides (U3O8, U02) as well as highly reactive gases Radium and Radon, among other things. Oxide panicles are from 0.5 to 5 microns large and can be carried by the wind over several hundred Kilometres Since Kosava and north-western winds are the most common in the windrose of the Yugoslav region, this practically means that pollution goes from Yugoslavia to Hungary, Germany, Croatia and Bosnia or to Albania, Macedonian and Greece.

Radiological as well as chemical contamination "do not distinguish" among military personnel who use the mentioned armaments, among targets, territories, innocent present civilians, the press, the crews and teams that provide all sorts of assistance, nor are they confined within any state boundaries or a specified time period. NATO forces operating also against their own peoples and children. It is noteworthy that the time of semi-decomposition of impoverished uranium is 4.5 billion years. Expert epidemiological studies show that there is no safe lower limit for radiation exposure!

 

THE EFFECTS OF WAR OPERATIONS ON THE NUTRITION CHAIN OF THE POPULATION AND ON THE POPULATION ITSELF WITHIN AND BEYOND) YUGOSLAVIA’S BOUNDARIES

All the above mentioned polluters (chemicals produced as a result of air fuel combustion, products of explosions, chemicals released in chemical accidents, etc.) pollute the air, soil, water and biota and have a negative effect in the short and long term on the nutrition chain (cereals, vegetables, fruit grown on the polluted soil and/or \Watered with polluted water, animals that feed on such plants and whose milk or meat is used for human nutrition, etc.) and elements that depend on it.

The polluted ground and surface waters generate long-term effects on the nutrition chain Which are. not confined to state boundaries.

 

PREPARATION FOR WAR AS A SOURCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

We also wish to point out to the general public in the NATO countries taking part in its aggression on Yugoslavia as well as to those who have allowed the use of their airspace and the preparations of aircraft, armaments, warehousing of the same, their maintenance, etc. affect to a considerable extent the state of the environment in those countries and, in the course of war operations, that of Yugoslavia as well.

 

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA
THE FEDERAL MINISTRY FOR DEVELOPMENT, SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT

 

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