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The BBC's Nick Thorpe reports from Budapest:
"Hungary is bearing the brunt of the damage"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 14 March, 2000, 22:18 GMT
Hungary demands action over pollution
A dyke-keeper performs hourly tests on the river Tisza
A dyke-keeper performs hourly tests on the river Tisza
The Hungarian Government has asked Romania to take immediate action to identify and, if necessary, close industrial plants that pose a serious danger to the environment.

The request comes after two recent spills from Romanian mines, which led to large-scale pollution in the river Tisza, the Danube's largest tributary.


Hungary counts on and expects co-operation from Romania

Hungarian Foreign Ministry
Deputy State Secretary Gabor Bagi summoned the Romanian Ambassador Petru Cordos on Tuesday to warn him the situation was "extraordinary and serious".

He urged Romania to start "immediate, comprehensive studies" of industrial plants close to the tributaries of the river Tisza to avoid further pollution.

Toxic sludge

The latest spill reached Hungary at dawn on Monday after a dyke burst in the Baia Borsa mine of northern Romania last Friday.

It released 20,000 cubic metres of sludge containing zinc, lead and copper which darkened a 70km (43 mile) stretch of water.

Baie Mare in northern Romania
An earlier spill occurred at Baia Mare in northern Romania
By Tuesday, it had reached Hungary's north-eastern Tiszaloek dam and was diluted by spring flooding, the water management authorities said.

They have sealed a canal that provides drinking water for 250,000 people in the eastern city of Debrecen.

Experts from the United Nations are currently assessing the damage.

Hungary has said it will seek the help of the European Union in identifying further potential environmental disaster spots in Romania.

It has also offered Romania expert assistance to make safe their potentially hazardous technologies.

The spills have been described as the most serious environmental disaster to hit eastern Europe since the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant nearly 15 years ago.

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See also:

10 Feb 00 | Europe
Cyanide spill wreaks havoc
11 Feb 00 | Media reports
Hungary's shock at cyanide disaster
14 Feb 00 | Europe
Death of a river
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