Bombing in Yugoslavia

Aleksandar Krapez sasa at TURING.MI.SANU.AC.YU
Mon May 17 14:34:21 CDT 1999

Dear colleagues,

I can confirm the news Ron Kaneen sent to the list.
Fish is no food in Belgrade any more.

I live about 20 km away from Pancevo but still could smell chlorine the
morning after the bombing of refinery and nitrogen fertilizer factories.
I stayed inside my apartment but could hear people coughing in the street.

Further is an article which appeared in:
Chemical and Engneering News, May 10
on actual and possible consequences.

Recently, the chemical factory in Prahovo was also bombed with similar
results, threatening serious polution of lower Danube and parts of
Romania and Bulgaria as well.


A. Krapez


May 10, 1999
Volume 77, Number 19
CENEAR 77 19 pp. 7-8
ISSN 0009-2347

                           NATO bombs take out chemical complex

Michael Heylin

     The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's aerial bombardment of
Serbia has specifically targeted refineries and petrochemical and
fertilizer facilities with devastating impact, according to both NATO
and Serbian sources.
     The biggest chemical target in Serbia has been a petrochemical and
fertilizer complex in Pancevo, on the Danube River about 10 miles
northeast of Belgrade. This complex is adjacent to an oil refinery that
has been attacked several times since NATO's air campaign started on
March 24. On April 8, the Pentagon claimed that this refinery, one of
the two largest in Serbia, was no longer capable of operating.
     The major strikes against the Pancevo chemical facilities came on
the nights of April 15 and 17. The units destroyed were HIP
Petrohemija's ethylene, vinyl chloride, polyvinyl chloride, and
mercury-cell chlor-alkali plants and HIP Azotara's ammonia and
fertilizer facilities.
     According to an April 16 statement by Slobodan Tresac, director
general of HIP Petrohemija, which was distributed via the Internet, the
ethylene and vinyl chloride units were hit directly in the first attack,
which also damaged the chlor-alkali and PVC units. According to Tresac,
a fire broke out and very large quantities of toxic materials were
released, injuring a large number of people, but he reports no deaths.
     The second attack finished off the chlor-alkali and PVC units and
destroyed the ammonia and fertilizer facilities. The information service
of the Yugoslav Army Supreme Command claims that 70,000 people had to be
evacuated,  resumably temporarily, because of the attacks. The plant is
about three miles from the center of Pancevo, a city with a population
of about 150,000.
     An e-mailed statement received by C&EN last week from the president
of the Serbian Chemical Society, Miroslav J. Gasic, claims that huge
volumes of chlorine, mercury, hydrocarbons, ammonia, nitrogen and sulfur
oxides, phosphorus compounds, and hydrogen halides have been released as
a result of these attacks. It also states that "a large number of people
have had to be treated for poisoning."
     The society appeals to the scientific and professional public to
help stop the "targeting of industrial complexes which release toxic,
teratogenic, carcinogenic materials to prevent further spread of the
ecological catastrophe in the Balkan Peninsula and Europe."
     A statement on the Internet from a group of chemistry-related
University of Belgrade faculty expresses similar sentiments. It calls
for a cessation of "the extremely dangerous policy of NATO" of attacking
chemical plants before "an ecological catastrophe results."
     At a press briefing on April 19, a Pentagon spokesman dismissed
such concerns. He pointed to Serbian press reports that the plants went
into controlled shutdown as soon as they were attacked. He added that
the U.S. believes that some very volatile gases may have been released
and that they quickly dispersed.
     However, the reports of considerable health problems resulting from
the Pancevo bombing are not inconsistent with U.S. estimates of chemical
hazards as reflected in risk management plans prepared by U.S. chemical
facility operators at the behest of the Environmental Protection Agency.
For example, a sudden release of 650 tons of chlorine from storage at
one plant is estimated to have an end-point distance of at least 25
miles. Within this distance, according to EPA, people exposed for an
hour could face "serious health effects."
     U.S. chemical and environmental experts contacted by C&EN say there
could be short-term ecological damage, such as defoliation, if the
attacks on the Pancevo chemical plants were as devastating as reported
by the Serbs. But they are skeptical of claims of a long-term ecological

Chemical & Engineering News

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