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Water and industrial accidents

Major industrial accidents may cause far-reaching transboundary effects and may lead to accidental water pollution. The Signatories to the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents and the Parties to the Convention on the protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International lakes decided to cooperate on issues related to the prevention of accidental pollution of transboundary waters.

The Joint Expert Group of the Water and Industrial Accidents Convention, in accordance with its Strategy adopted by the Bureau to the Industrial Accidents Convention and endorsed by the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention, is activated on a specific subject.

 In 2010, the two Bureaux of the Water and Industrial Accidents Conventions endorsed the proposal to develop a checklist/methodology for harmonized contingency planning for accidents with potential impacts on transboundary watercourses and assigned this task to the Joint Expert Group. The objective of the document is to help to establish/facilitate the review by UNECE countries of procedures and requirements for crisis management and contingency planning so that in the event of an accident with effects on transboundary waterways response actions could be taken in a harmonized way by neighbouring countries. In 2010-2012, several meetings of the Joint Ad Hoc Expert Group on Water and Industrial Accidents were held with the aim to develop a methodology for harmonized contingency planning. At present, the methodology is at advanced stage of preparations.

The Seminar on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Sandoz accident was organized under the leadership of Germany on 8 and 9 November 2011 in Bonn, Germany, with the main objective to reflect on the work carried out and progress achieved in the area of prevention of accidental water pollution in the UNECE region as well as to examine existing deficits in prevention of water pollution by chemical substances, and formulate the way forward to address these deficiencies. At the workshop the experts jointly identified a number of challenges such as new sources of risk, reliable and up-to-date inventories of risk sources, enforcement of procedures and safety standards, including personnel and technical capacity, etc.