JANUARY 1982 - VOLUME 3 - NUMBER 1
European community agrees on pollution emergency measures
All ten member nations of the European Community (EC) will enact legislation requiring chemical companies and factories using toxic materials to draft emergency plans in case of accidents, and to inform both their personnel and neighboring communities of their activities. Representatives of the nations agreed to adopt such legislation within two years in a "directive" adopted unanimously by the 10 EC environment ministers on December 3.
North Sea pollution - which affects France, Britain, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark - and chemical pollution of the Rhine on the Franco-German border are serious points of contention among European nations.
European environmental groups say that in the case of the Rhine, it is factories on the French side of the river which are principally responsible for the 10,500 tons of chlorine--based pollutants discharged into the river annually. An additional problem is thousands of tons of sodium chloride from potassium mines in France's Alsace region which are discharged into the Rhine.
The international environmental protection group, Greenpeace, has launched a campaign against the annual dumping of 14,000 tons of acid and other industrial wastes into the North Sea by the German chemical company, Kronos Titan, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New York based NL (for National Lead) Industries. The 'Sirius', a boat manned by Greenpeace supporters, blockaded the port of Nordenham on the German North Sea Coast, and in late October prevented a cargo of sulphuric acid from the Kronos Titan titanium dioxide factory from leaving port.
In an apparently conciliatory move, Kronos Titan's managing director told the protest organizers, which included representatives from Greenpeace, professional maritime groups and fishermen, that the company would stop dumping part of its wastes into the North Sea.
The 'Sirius' ended its selective blockade of Nordenham, but then at an official meeting between protesters and the German company, Kronos Titan reneged on its pledge.
"We were duped" say Greenpeace organizers today. Kronos Titan officials placed the blame for their broken promise on their parent company, NL Industries, which vetoed, because of the extra cost involved, the plan to store the wastes on land. In New York, NL spokesperson Jim Hill denied that Kronos Titan had ever agreed to stop dumping wastes.
Eighty million tons of industrial wastes are discharged annually into the North Sea. Nine million tons of this waste, according to Greenpeace, consists of especially noxious chemicals, including 1.3 million tons of potentially cancer-causing chemicals. One quarter of the total waste comes from the titanium dioxide industry. The environmental group names the pharmaceutical firm Bayer AG, and Kronos Titan as the worst chemical polluters.
According to Greenpeace, radioactive material is also discharged into the North Sea - and here the organization says the two major polluters are joint government/private industry nuclear processing plants at La Hague in France and Windscale in England, both of which discharge radioactive cesium, strontium, plutonium and tritium.