Warning that NATO could cause a huge ecological catastrophe, Yugoslav authorities are asking NATO not to hit a chemical plant near central Belgrade. A Belgrade health official said that if it is bombed, the plant could release a cloud with a deadly dose of hydro-fluoride, an acid used to manufacture washing detergents. The officials said the effects would be deadly within a 19-mile radius, and its toxic effects would reach 60 miles away.
The factory has been lit by floodlights for NATO planes to clearly see it. Meanwhile, thick black smoke mixed with choking fumes rose above an area targeted by a NATO attack on an oil storage depot and nitrogen fertilizer plant in Pancevo, just six miles northwest of Belgrade. State media warned residents of the capital to cover their mouths with handkerchiefs as a precaution against hazardous fumes. An immense fire also sent pillars of smoke into the sky after a refinery was bombed in Novi Sad.
As NATO continues to bomb Yugoslavia, the United States is also engaged in a second war–with the almost daily bombings of Iraq. For both Yugoslavia and Iraq, many are concerned over the ecological devastation and the health consequences of air strikes that blow up targets such as oil refineries and chemical factories. Today we take a look at the environmental impact of the war in Yugoslavia.
- Robert Hayden, Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been deeply involved in attempts to mediate the crisis in Kosovo, bringing political leaders from all sides and regularly visiting the region.