Nick ThorpeUN ends cyanide spill survey
Saturday, 4 March, 2000
A team of United Nations experts investigating the effects of a cyanide spill on several European rivers has completed nine days of fieldwork in the worst-contaminated regions.
The UN team ended its research in Yugoslavia by taking samples from the rivers Tisza and Danube and the surrounding flora and fauna.
It began its tour in Romania, before travelling to Hungary.
The 16-member team of 11 different nationalities was careful to issue no preliminary findings.
Their comprehensive report, including recommendations, is expected in Geneva at the end of March.
Along the worst affected stretches of the rivers, the local population is still weighing up the cost of the disaster in lost income.
A fishing ban is still in place in many areas and fish from local ponds and other rivers can only be sold with a medical certificate.
Some fish restaurants in eastern Hungary have resorted to selling poultry.
The political impact of the disaster is still gathering momentum.
The Yugoslav authorities have found themselves for once in the same boat as their neighbours.
But relations between Hungary and Romania were damaged by the disaster after years of steady improvement.
The cyanide spill occurred at a gold mine in northern Romania on 30 January.
But the worst damage to the environment was in neighbouring Hungary.