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Accidental water pollution exercise on Danube River highlights need for prevention to ensure industrial safety

Experts from Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia, Czechia and Austria joined UNECE in Hungary to take part this week in a practical exercise in the operational area of the Danube Oil Refinery related to industrial accident and water pollution management.

This one day exercise fosters transboundary cooperation in the UNECE region on the prevention and management of accidental water pollution. It was organized jointly by the Hungarian Ministry of Interior and the National Directorate General for Disaster Management in cooperation with the MOL Plc. Danube Refinery, the Middle-Danube-valley Water Directorate and the UNECE Joint Ad Hoc Expert Group on Water and Industrial Accidents.

Control of the contaminated water run-off was the key focus of this exercise. It simulated an accidental fire on site, and the response actions by the operator and authorities in managing the fire and minimizing the subsequent effects. In this event, the firefighting water was not well maintained and overflowed into local systems and a transboundary watercourse - the Danube River. The participants were shown why better measures need to be in place to avoid accidental water pollution from an industrial facility and how to respond.

In addition, representatives from the international commission for the protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and experts from Sudan (present in Hungary for training in disaster management) were in attendance.

Transboundary cooperation on prevention, preparedness and response measures to potential accident at refineries is crucial to be able to effectively manage the risks and coordinate response actions if an accident does occur.

Members of the UNECE Joint Ad Hoc Expert Group on Water and Industrial Accidents took part in the exercise, informing the participants of the Expert Group’s relevant guidance materials and activities that assist countries in strengthening their prevention and control of transboundary water pollution arising from industrial accidents.

The UNECE guidance materials help countries like Hungary and its neighbours to enhance the safety of facilities such as Danube Oil Refinery. These include the UNECE Safety Guidelines and Good Practices for Oil Terminals, the Checklist for Contingency Planning for accidents affecting transboundary waters, and the draft Safety Guidelines on the Retention and Management of Firefighting Water.

Learn more about our work on industrial accidents: www.unece.org/env/teia.html