EU project workshop addresses ways of protecting the environment from natural and man-made disasters

How to prevent environmental emergencies and how to deal with them promptly and effectively is the main focus of a workshop on better preparedness for environmental emergencies organised in Istanbul from 18 to 22 February by the EU-funded civil protection programme PPRD South in collaboration with the United Nations UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit.
For five days, 27 experts from the Civil Protection Authorities of 11 Mediterranean and Balkan countries will gather on the Bosphorus, one of the top risk areas in the region for oil spills caused by tankers collisions, to analyse in detail recent disasters which affected the environment in the Euro-Mediterranean region and devise possible preparedness measures to respond to future crises. Participants will review the available tools for identifying in advance the possible negative consequences on the environment of a natural or a technological disaster, for assessing the level of risk and putting in place mitigation measures.
Environmental emergencies in the Mediterranean region are mostly related to oil spills in the sea – generated by tanker collisions or explosions - and to pollution of rivers and soils as a consequence of industrial accidents. Workshop participants will analyse, with the help of experts from the Bosphorus Vessel Traffic and Emergency Response Centre, the major oil spill accidents happened in the region.
During the workshop, participants will also review the consequences of inadequate prevention and preparedness measures in three major environmental disasters in Europe: the lack of emergency water storage provisions at the Baia Mare gold processing plant in Romania, which, in 2000, caused the runoff of 100,000 cubic meters of toxic waste water into the Danube affecting Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia and Bulgaria; the poor emergency response arrangements when the Aznalcóllar tailing dam collapsed in 1998 in Spain and 5 to 7 million cubic metres of toxic material spilled over and run unchecked for several days contaminating agricultural lands and rivers; and the insufficient plant design at the Sandoz agrochemical storehouse in Switzerland where, in 1986, following the activation of the plant fire-fighting facilities to control a fire, the site drainage containment revealed insufficient to cope with the great quantity of water utilised and the contaminated run-off entered the Rhine devastating aquatic life.
The Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit – a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – is the primary UN mechanism to mobilise and coordinate international assistance to countries affected by environmental emergencies.
The €5 million PPRD South Programme (Programme for Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters) – which runs for three years and is managed by a consortium led by the Italian Civil Protection Department together with the French, Algerian, Egyptian Civil Protection Authorities and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) – is also organising training workshops dealing with risks in the region such as wild fires, technological disasters, floods, earthquakes, epidemics and drought, among others. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Read more
Press release
PPRD South – fiche and news  
PPRD South – website
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre feature (Lebanon) - What should you do in the event of an earthquake? Find out by playing a game.
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre feature (OPT) - “I have learned to tame fire”
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre feature (Algeria) - Disaster prevention for an improved response

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