For the first time, on 24 March 2015, the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine tested how the three countries would jointly cooperate to respond to an industrial accident with possible transboundary consequences, such as an oil spill that might reach the Danube Delta.
After more than 2,000 kilometres, the Danube River flows into the Black Sea where it forms one of the largest and most preserved river deltas in Europe, shared by the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. The Danube Delta is famous for its unique ecosystems that host over 5,000 animal and plant species. Since 1991 the core of this nature reserve is also a designated United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Natural Heritage Site. The outstanding environmental value and sensitivity of the region requires particular efforts for its protection. This is especially of importance in view of several oil terminals located upstream or within the Delta, which cause an increased hazard potential for the ecosystem. As industrial accidents at such oil terminals can result in a catastrophic pollution of the Delta, riparian countries need to work closely together to be able to respond effectively in the event of accident.
The test was conducted in the Civil Protection Emergency Situation Service in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, by simulating an accident and discussing in a structured way possible emergency response, transboundary cooperation and mutual assistance activities (table-top exercise). The test was part of the project on improving hazard and crisis management in the Danube Delta, implemented under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents.
The results of the test and its evaluation revealed areas for improvement in the trilateral cooperation between the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. Taking into account the lessons learned from the current test will be essential for the organization of a field exercise simulating a real oil spill in the Danube Delta in the summer of 2015. The results of the table-top and field exercises will also be used for the further development of a trilateral agreement on hazard and crisis management and a Joint Contingency Plan for the Danube Delta, expected to be adopted by the three countries later in 2015. Although the three countries have bilateral agreements in place to cooperate in case of an emergency, there is currently no trilateral agreement allowing for their joint response. The Joint Contingency Plan, which will fill that gap, will be an important new tool to improve the protection of the natural heritage, water quality and the unique environment in the Danube Delta.
The project on improving hazard and crisis management in the Danube Delta is implemented under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents. Activities under the hazard and crisis management components of the project have been carried out thanks to the financial support by Finland, Germany and the Netherlands.
Notes to editors:
The 1992 Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents aims to protect people and the environment against industrial accidents. It is designed to help prevent accidents from occurring, reduce the frequency and severity of such accidents and to mitigate their effects if they should occur. In 2004, the Convention’s Conference of the Parties adopted an Assistance Programme to support the countries from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia and South-Eastern Europe in implementing the Convention. The Republic of Moldova and Romania are Parties to the Convention. Ukraine is a beneficiary country to the Convention’s Assistance Programme and has, as such, committed itself to implementing the Convention.
For more information about the UNECE project on hazard and crisis management, please visit http://www.unece.org/environmental-policy/conventions/industrial-accidents/areas-of-work/assistance-programme/envteiaapimplementation/envteiaapddp.html or contact:
Mr. Nikolay Savov, Assistance Programme Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Claudia Kamke, Associate Environmental Affairs Officer at email@example.com