After saying goodbyes to new friends in Sierra Leone, Elyx now arrives in the Danube Delta, Europe’s second largest river delta, shared by the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. Elyx is impressed by the beauty of a unique ecosystem that hosts over 5,000 animal and plant species. No wonder that since 1991 the core of this nature reserve is a designated United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Natural Heritage Site. Elyx knows that the Danube Delta region requires particular efforts for its protection.
Elyx participates today in a field exercise simulating an oil spill in the Danube Delta which is organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Elyx learns how the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine jointly respond to such an accident in order to mitigate accidental water pollution. Industrial accidents can have severe consequences on human health and the environment, not only within the country they are originating in, but also across borders. As several oil terminals are located upstream or within the Delta, an industrial accident at these facilities can result in a catastrophic water pollution of the entire Delta. It is thus important that riparian countries work closely together to effectively respond to such accidents in the event of an emergency. UNECE supports countries in improving their transboundary cooperation before, during and after an industrial accident in order to prevent accidents and to mitigate their effects, in case they occur.
Following the field exercise, Elyx joins the participants in discussing and evaluating the results of their level of preparedness and response: Were neighbouring countries informed in a timely manner about the accident? Were trained personnel available to operate the emergency equipment? Were the risks to the environment and the surrounding population jointly assessed and monitored? Elyx listens carefully to those questions and countries’ responses. Elyx thinks it is important that the countries determine actions to further strengthen their cooperation for an effective response to any “real” industrial accidents. Elyx is delighted to learn that this exercise will help to finalize the first draft Joint Contingency Plan for the Danube Delta between the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.