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End Eco-Destruction, Yugoslav Scientists Plead

Destroying water aquifers, cropland
(ENS) BELGRADE -- Scientists are warning that the NATO bombs being dropped on Yugoslavia are destroying not just military targets but the entire ecology of the region. One of the healthiest areas in Europe is turning into an environment hazardous for human health as land and water are being irreversibly polluted, they report.

Especially vulnerable are the underground waters, says Momir Komatina, holder of a doctorate in hydro-geology and cofounder of International Karst Commission. He is a member of the International Association of Hydro-geologists and the author of 12 books and over 260 scientific essays on subterranean waters.

"The pollution of water resources in the wide area of NATO bombing is not damaging just for our country but for the Balkans and a part of the South Europe as well, especially for the countries in the Black Sea area," Dr. Komatina wrote in an email from Belgrade. "Everybody agree that they are the essential natural resources for the future of humanity and once polluted they can hardly be recovered."

He says that Yugoslavia is full of numerous aquifers containing major or minor subterranean water reserves including mineral, thermo-mineral and top-quality bottling water.

"The larger numbers of our subterranean wells considering their reserves are of a European rank. The subterranean waters in Yugoslavia fill the needs of 90 percent of population and industry, but only a minor part of the total amount is used. The territory of Serbia is the first in the world for the density of mineral and thermo-mineral springs," Dr. Komatina writes.

Luka Radoja, holder of a doctorate in agronomy and a member of The Programme Council of The New Green Party in Belgrade, says the NATO destruction of fuel storage depots entails "many dramatic consequences."

"By burning down enormous quantities of naphtha and its derivatives more than a hundred highly toxic chemical compounds that pollute water, air and soil are released. When these three elementary conditions of life are endangered, the basis of life for all the people on the Balkan Peninsula as well as those in the neighbouring regions is also in danger," Dr. Radoja writes from Belgrade.

"Just one liter of spilt naphtha and its derivatives pollutes one million liters of water. These poisons endanger all life forms, not only on the territory of Yugoslavia but the territory of our neighbouring countries as well as the wider region of Europe, because the winds and water-flows are directed right to the Central Europe, the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea region," he says.

Dr. Radoja points out that the NATO bombing is happening in the phase of planting many crops vital for survival: corn, sunflower, soy, sugar beets and vegetables. The planting of 2.5 million hectares of land has been halted.

"The lack of fuel for agricultural machines will have catastrophic results, because it leads to hunger of the entire population. When you add to this the poisoning of the water, air and soil the catastrophe becomes a cataclysm," he writes.

Scientists are also worried that the bombing may damage collections of over a million museum scientific samples in faculties and institutes, in private collections in Belgrade and other towns in Serbia, especially on Kosovo and Metohija.

"We appeal to the international public to make NATO stop the destruction of what Nature has been creating for billions of years. Such natural values are not and cannot be one nation`s or one generation`s asset. They are products of Earth's billion years long evolution and can be demolished in a moment by new killer technologies," Dr. Komatina pleads.

Dr. Radoja, the agronomist, mourns for the fractured ecosystem. He writes, "As an expert who has spent his entire work-age on the fields of this, up until now, ecologically pure part of Europe, I am a witness of the disappearing of the most beautiful garden of Europe."

© 1999 Environment News Service and reprinted with permission

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Albion Monitor April 19, 1999 (

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