WWF attacks metal miners over spill risks

Environmental group marks second anniversary of Doñana accident with new call for action

Environmental group the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has accused the European metal mining industry of failing to assume responsibility for its toxic wastes. The NGO was marking today's second anniversary of the 1998 Doñana tailings dam leak, when 5m cubic metres of toxic waters spilled from a mine in Andalucia, Spain, threatening the world famous Doñana national park (ENDS Daily 27 April 1998). WWF has campaigned strongly over mine lagoon safety since the Doñana incident.

In a statement, WWF alleged a "lack of commitment" on the part of the mining industry to tackle the problems of abandoned mines or to help in the compilation of a Europe-wide inventory of existing and abandoned mine waste storage sites. It further accused the industry of "clinging to old methods" for constructing mine waste lagoons. New plans for gold mines in Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia "appear to be going ahead without improved environmental standards" despite the January's Baia Mare cyanide leak in Romania (ENDS Daily 10 February), the group added.

Listing its priorities for industry action, WWF called for adoption of risk assessments at all sites, action plans for preventing spills and cleaning up existing environmental damage, emergency plans for disasters, and publicly accountable international standards for mine closure. The group made similar demands shortly after the Baia Mare spill (ENDS Daily 22 February).

Follow Up:
WWF European Policy Office, tel: +32 2 743 8800.

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