Transboundary emergencies: managing hazardous spills together


Transboundary emergencies:
managing hazardous spills together

Three Danube countries – Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia – are working together with international experts to improve crisis management during accidental pollution and to strengthen the joint supervision of emergencies in border areas.

Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia are working together to improve their emergency preparedness and strengthen the joint management of emergencies in a transboundary context.

A pilot project on joint management of transboundary emergencies from spills of hazardous substances into the Danube River was launched following a request for assistance by Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia to improve their emergency preparedness and to strengthen the joint management of emergencies in a transboundary context.

Organised by the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, the main donor for the project, together with the UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents Secretariat and Romania, the project’s kick-off meeting was held in March 2009. The partner countries decided on three project phases: a technical workshop, an in-field exercise and a final workshop.

Assessing emergency procedures. The technical workshop was hosted by Romania in Drobeta-Turnu Severin on 16–18 June 2009. The meeting led to the exchange of information on management procedures between the three project countries and to the elaboration of a scenario for the in-field exercise.

The in-field exercise took place on 24 September 2009 and was followed by a workshop devoted to a quick exercise evaluation held on 25 September in Prahovo/Negotin, Serbia. The focus of the in-field exercise was notification, emergency management and consequence modelling.

The objectives of the final workshop in Sofia held on 17–18 November were to discuss the detailed analysis carried out after the exercise, to draft blueprints for improving the crisis management based on lessons learnt and conclusions from the exercise, and to share the results of the project with other countries.

Strengthening cooperation. Organisations participating were: from Bulgaria – the Ministry of Environment and Water, and the Ministry of Emergency Situations; from Romania – the Ministry of Environment, the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations with the Ministry of Administration and Interior and its County’s Inspectorate, the National Environment Protection Agency, the Romanian Waters National Administration; from Serbia – the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defence, the Hydrometeorological Service, and the Institute for Republic Health, the Municipality of Negotin.

The exercise and the workshop were supported by experts from ICARO – an Italian advisory company that specialises in industrial safety, the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment, the Polish State Fire Service, the Croatian National Protection and Rescue Directorate, the Secretariat of the UNECE Convention and the ICPDR’s Accident Prevention Task Group.

Conclusions and follow up. The project offered the possibility to test the ICPDR methodologies (quantification of risks, notification and the Danube Basin Alarm Model), and provided an opportunity to share experiences and practices and strengthen cooperation in the border areas. The Accident Prevention Task Group of the ICPDR will propose options of promoting the UNECE guidelines for emergency management during accidental pollution within the context of the ICPDR.

The ICPDR Secretariat would like to thank Mr. Lukasz Wyrowski from the UNECE secretariat for the invitation to participate in this project.

Mihaela Popovici works as Technical Expert for Water Management at the ICPDR.