First meeting for EU Baia Mare task force

Chairman to visit Romanian accident site later this month; report expected by year end

The head of the EU task force investigating January's cyanide spill from a Romanian mine tailings pond which devastated the Tisza river in Hungary will visit the site later this month, the European Commission announced today.

The decision was made at yesterday's first meeting of the task force, set up last month by EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström (ENDS Daily 18 February). The group's seven members include representatives of NGOs and the Hungarian and Romanian governments, but no-one from the mining industry.

According to a Commission statement, it will "establish what happened and apportion the causes of the spill as precisely as possible," but "cannot become involved in any consideration of compensation." Hungary has already said it will sue the mine's owners for damages.

A UN team is expected to provide a detailed scientific report on the accident in early April, the statement said. Following this, the EU task force will meet with governments and NGOs and produce a final report by the end of the year.

It will also survey the Danube basin area to identify other potential accident "hotspots". Ms Wallström said she was "pleased to see that things are moving rapidly and that concrete actions are taking place". "The latest incident in Baia Borsa has underlined the great importance and urgency of the work," she added (ENDS Daily 13 March).

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111. Baia Mare task force, tel: +32 2 299 6660.

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