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15.03.2010

Joint UN/EU team concludes technical scoping mission to Kalush

   

A joint United Nations/European Union assessment team has completed its technical scoping mission to the city of Kalush, Ukraine following an official request for assistance from national authorities.

“The focus of the mission was to attempt to identify the immediate and critical threats and stability concerning the tailings dam, and any subsequent localized impact,” said René Nijenhuis, teamleader of the mission and Officer-in-Charge of the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, based in Geneva.

Nijenhuis noted that in addition, the possible presence of compounds such as hexachlorobenzene in a nearby disposal site could pose serious risks to local populations if released into the environment.

Thanks to key technical support that was provided through the International Humanitarian Partnership – including an important contribution of sampling and analysis equipment from the Dutch Environmental Assessment Module – a wide variety of soil samples were taken from the affected areas and transported to the Netherlands for testing.

The team’s final report is expected after the sampling results are available, in about two week’s time. The mission results should help inform decision making and possible actions.

The mission was conducted jointly through the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) System and the European Commission’s Monitoring and Information Centre (EC-MIC).

The nine-member team included expertise in emergency management, environment, risk reduction, hydrogeology and tailings dams.

The mission concluded on Tuesday following briefings for national authorities, representatives of numerous countries, the World Bank, as well as for UN and EU colleagues.

“The Ukrainian government stated that they appreciated the efforts of the international community very much, and that they are looking forward to receiving the report, especially for recommendations of technical solutions,” stated Simone Wolken, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. in Ukraine.

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