TED Case Studies

Danube Pollution

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          CASE NUMBER:         215 
          CASE MNEMONIC:      DANUBE
          CASE NAME:          Romania Danube Pollution


1.   The Issue

     Five major rivers and 165 million people in 17 countries
pour pollution into the Danube River. The river absorbs raw
sewage from cities, pesticides and chemicals from farmers'
fields, waste from  factories and bilge oil from ships. Virtually
enclosed once it begins to weave its way through Europe the
Danube retains most of the pollution reaching its waters. Sewage
washes up on the beaches, spread disease and making the shores
unsafe for residents and tourists.  Nitrogen, phosphorus and
other  pollutants have spawned algae which have asphyxiated
marine life and brought the river's once flourishing fishing
industry to its knees.

2.   Description

     Large and small industrial plants in oil refining,
chemicals, pulp, paper,  coal, metallurgy and refining often
release pollutants into the many ancillary rivers and tributaries
that  feed into the Danube River. Illegal dumping of industrial
and toxic wastes has often been reported by environmental
organizations that attempt to monitor commercial and illegal
discharges of hazardous chemicals and industrial byproducts into
the river. In 1988, 364 drums of toxic waste originating in Italy
were found to have been dumped into the Danube and somehow made
their way onto the beaches and coastal waters of Turkey.
Additionally, the thousands of cities and towns lining the river
often pour raw poorly treated sewage into the river.

     Many of the world's leading environmental agencies have long
centered the focus of their attention on the continued pollution
of the Danube River. Yet it was only with the fall of the East's
communist regimes that scientists and government officials began
to realize the seriousness of the environmental havoc which the
destructive industrial policies of the former communist regimes
had wrought on the Danubian watershed. Industrial pollution is
especially high on the Danube because the former communist
masters in Eastern and Central Europe sought lucrative short-term
production gahls, often at the price of environmental

     The steady degradation of the Danube's environment has
severely affected the health of its residents, wreaked untold
econolllic damage on the river's once thriving ecosystem, and
destroyed much of the region's biodiversity. In recent years, the
various governments bordering the Danube have initiated a series
of long-term endeavors aimed at protecting and restoring the
health of the Danubian watershed. This environmental awareness
has largely been driven by the realization that a healthy
watershed offers the region numerous business opportunities for
many industries, including shipping, ports, energy, construction,
tourism, agriculture and fisheries. 

     For instance, several Scandinavian nations have volunteered
to deploy staff from their national research laboratories to work
hand-in-hand with Eastern European environmental officials.
During a January trip to Denmark, I met with representatives of
RISO, the Danish Government's national scientific laboratory.
Using methodologies they had developed following the Chernobyl
reactor disaster to trace future nuclear and heavy metal
discharges from Soviet reactors located in Lithuania, they were
preparing to assist local officials in identifying specific
levels of industrial discharges from plants along the Danube
within each respective Eastern European nation. Furthermore, the
Swedish Government has committed development aid to Eastern
European smelting and fertilizer plants along the Danube in an
attempt to lower smokestack discharges using "green" technologies
developed for Swedish industry. 

     Yet a solution to the environmental problems which plague
the Danube will necessitate sustained investment worth many
billions of dollars over many years. Furthermore, former
communist nations such as Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and the
Slovak Republic, whose heavy industries are the primary polluters
of the Danube, will have to close several hundred factories in
order to significantly reduce effluent discharges and toxic
emissions into the Danube. Faced with deteriorating local
economies and high levels of unemployment, Eastern European
governments have balked at the thought of closing plants  to
preserve the tributary. Without substantial levels of Western
assistance, it appears that many of the new governments will only
pay lip gervice to calls for an end to hazardous discharges into
the Danube.

     As noted above, many of the former communist countries of
East Central Europe, particularly  the Slovak Republic, Hungary,
the former-Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria continue to discharge
toxic,  and often hazardous wastes, into the Danube. As one can
imagine, the effluent discharges continue to flow downriver, to
the detriment of villages, cities and tourism facilities which
rely upon the waters of the Danube for tourism, fishing revenues
and drinking water. The pollution has taken a particularly heavy
toll on the Northern Mediterranean regions of Southern Europe. In
addition to significant increases in water borne infections in
effected areas, beaches and fishing grounds are frequently closed
when pollutant levels exceed acceptable standards. The result has
been occasional shortages of potable drinking water coupled with
the need to refrain from marketing and eating fish and shellfish
harvested from effected areas.

     Perhaps one of the rivers' most prolific polluters is
Romania. As one of the East's more advanced economies during the
communist era, Romania practiced an industrial policy which
disregarded  environmental safeguards in favor of heavy industry
(particularly steel mills, paper mills and commercial 
fertilizers). Romanian discharges have been actively pursued by
the Government of Bulgaria, where that  government has repeatedly
protested the industrial effluents that have flowed off of the
Danubian watershed and into some of their protected river
systems. Furthermore, even though Romania has adopted several
bilateral and multilateral conventions on the protection of the
Danubian watershed, it has continued to haphazardly discharge its
industrial pollution in blatant disregard of its treaty and
convention obligations. As regional tensions have mounted between
Romania and its neighbors, several actions have either been
taken, or are in the process of being taken against Romania in
order to ensure Romanian compliance with its treaty obligations.

     Nonetheless, racked by perhaps one of the worst economies in
Eastern Europe, Romania has repeatedly stated that its government
is unable to clean up polluting factories without further
dismpting the fragile economy. Furthermore, as many of the
communists from the late 1980's remain in power in Romania,
environmental compliance at the local level by federal officials
is often obstructed by former communist officials who are
unwilling to allow environmental directives to stand in the way
of economic self-determination. Until such time as Romania'
neighbors insist, under the threat of economic and trade
reprisals, on the adoption and enforcement of environmental
regulations by the Government of Romania, it is clear that
Romania will continue to destroy the Danube by continuing its
destructive policy of dumping chemical and petroleum solvents
untreated into the Danube and its surrounding watershed. 

3.   Related Cases: 

     COLORADO case
     MARSH case
     HUNGARY case
     ATATURK case
     ISRAELH2 case
     HIDROVIA case
     BLACKSEA case

     Keyword Clusters         

     (1): Trade Product            = TRANSport
     (2): Bio-geography            = TEMPerate
     (3): Environmental Problem    = WATER

     Points of Contact in Romania

World Bank

 Romania Project Officer Ms. Arntraud Hartmann
 The World Bank Resident Representative
 1818 H Street N.W. World Bank Resident Mission
 Washington, D.C. 20433 Blvd. Dacia 83
 Tel: (202) 473-2595 Bucharest, Romania
 Fax: (202) 477- 1942 Tel: (40-1) 312- 18-04
 Fax: (40-1) 312-20-22

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

 Tom Kelsey, Mike Hicks
 Senior Commercial Officer Deputy Regional
 Office of the U.S. Representative for Romania
 Executive Director Strada Sipotul Fintinilor 8
 One Exchange Square Bucharest, Romania
 London, EC2A 2EH, U.K Tel: (40-1) 615-69-99
 Tel. 44-71-338-6569 (40-1) 312-22-32
 Fax: 44-71 -338-6487 Fax: (40-1) 312-22-33

U.S. Trade and Development Agency
Geoffrey Jackson, Regional Director; or
Scott Contino, Projects Officer
Room 309 SA-16
Washington, D.C. 20523-1602
Tel: (703) 875-4357; Fax: (703) 875-7447
Export-lmport Bank of the United States

Joseph Fleig
Eastern Europe Projects
811 Vermont Avenue, Suite 1203
Washington, D.C. 20571
Tel: (202) 566-2113
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
James E. Gale
Investment Development
1100 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20527
Tel. (202) 336-8629; Fax (202) 408-5145

4.   Draft Author: Christopher C. Ashe 


5.   Discourse and Status: DISagree and INPROGress
     Romania and Bulgaria have begun to work out some of their
differences amicably following continued Bulgarian assertions
that the Romanian Government has continued its haphazard approach
of permitting industrial discharges into the Danube The adoption
of the May 15, 1993 Bilateral Convention on Environmental
Protection, as well as a related treaty, the April 123, 1993
Convention on Protection of the Black Sea from Pollution have
helped to establish working conflict-resolution mechanisms
whereby the two nation's may settle their disputes. 

6.   Forum and Scope: ROMANia and REGION

     Bilateral Convention on Environmental Protection (Romania
and Bulgaria, May 15, 1993): This bilateral convention commits
the two governments to resolving environmental issues that have
an adverse effect upon the national territory of the other
signatory. Furthermore, it establishes a series of technical
exchanges and ongoing consultative discussions between Bulgaria
and Romania. 

     Convention on Protection of the Black Sea from Pollution
(April 23, 1993): While this treaty does not directly effect the
current dispute as of yet, should Bulgaria be able to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that Romanian discharges are causing
damage in the Black Sea, Bulgaria may seek compensation from
Romania to offset any Bulgarian losses attributed to the Romanian

     Convention on Civil Liability for Environmental Damage
(Council of Europe, March 12, 1993): The Government of Bulgaria
has, as of yet, failed to invoke the environmental remediation
mechanisms contained in this Council of Europe Treaty. Because
the Council of Europe requires an unequivocal finding and
subsequent unanimous vote against the polluting nation, the
geopolitical composition of the Council of Europe almost ensures
Romania of receiving a sympathetic abstention from another
European polluter who could be the next plaintiff before the

7.   Decision Breadth: 6

8.   Legal Standing: TREATY

9.   Geography

     Geographic Domain: Europe

     Geographic Site: Eastern Europe

     Geographic Impact: Romania

10.  Sub-National Factors: No 

11.  Type of Habitat: TEMPerate


12.  Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD]

13.  Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: INDirect

14.       Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact

     a.  Directly Related     : Yes  OIOLGAS
     b.  Indirectly Related   : No
     c.  Not Related          : No
     d.  Process Related      : Yes  POLSea

15.  Trade Product Identification: OILGAS

16.  Economic Data 

     Romanian petrochemical industry and related operations had
an output of $260 million, Bulgarian fishing equalled $24
millino, and Bulgarian tourism was $65-75 million.  Employment
was 60,000 in the Romanian petrochemical industry, 10,000 in the 
Bulgarian fishing idnsutry, and 20-25,000 in the Bulgarian
tourism industry.

17.  Impact of Trade Restrictions:  LOW 

     The Government of Bulgaria has stated that one of the
primary trade-based sanctions that they will employ against
Romania will be a boycott of Romanian petroleum-based chemical
products (as the petrochemical industry is one of the largest
polluters of the Danube). Such sanctions by Bulgaria would cost
the Government of Romania approximately $40M-65 million per year.
It is expected that such a boycott could eliminate between 85-95%
of Romanian imports into Bulgaria.  Furthermore, a Bulgarian
boycott would result in the loss of employment to approximately
750-1,000 Romanians employed in all sectors of the petrochemical
sector (from production to shipping). 

18.  Industry Sector: OILGAS

19.  Exporters and Importer: ROMANia and MANY

     Although Romania leads in overall levels of hazardous wastes
discharged into the Danube, advanced economies, such as that of
Germany, also tend to contribute to the pollution problems
downstream. What the Germans save in hazardous pollution
discharges they more than make up for by discharging low-level
wastes, although in massive quantities, all along the Danube in
Germany. Hence, a country such as Germany can pollute upstream on
the Danube while other parts of Germany downstream are polluted
by the effluents, thereby making Germany, and several other
nations, net exporters and importers of the pollution. 


20.  Environmental Problem Type: Pollution Sea [POLS]

21.  Species

     Name:          Many
     Type:          Many
     Diversity:     NA

     Romanian discharges have had the most devastating effect
upon the algae levels on the Danube and associated streams in
Bulgaria. By the very nature of their discharges, namely
petrochemicals and fertilizer-based eduents' algae has thrived in
the Bulgarian portion of the DanutBe, killing most plant and
marine life, and impacting the land-based ecosystem that is
dependent upon a thriving Danubian tributary. Although very few
species have escaped unscathed, the fish and molhlsk populations
in Bulgarian waters have almost entirely vanished under this
unrelenting "attack of the algae. " 

22.  Resource Impact: HIGH and PRODuct

23.  Urgency and Lifetime: MEDium and 100s of years 

24.  Substitutes: CONServation [CONSV]


25.  Culture: No

26.  Human Rights: Yes

     As nations have continued to pollute the Danube, the quality
of living of the inhabitants of the river and its surrounding
tributaries have been aMicted by a number of health-related
aMictions that can be directly attributed to Romanian industrial
discharges into the river.

27.  Trans-Boundary Issue: Yes

     The pollution of the Danube by Romanian steel, chemicals and
paper and pulp processing manufacturers along the banks of the

28.  Relevant Literature: 

Aschenback, Joy. "Danube Dramatizes Wide Discord Over Rivers."
Los Angeles Times March 7, 1993. 

"Bulgaria: Black Sea Becomes Green Issue." Reuter
Textline-Llovd's List. August 6, 1993. 

"Council of Europe Adopts Convention on Civil Liability for
Environmental Damage. " BNA International
Environment Daily . March 12, 1993

"Foundation Formed to Help Public, Private Sectors on
Environmental Issues." BNA 

International Environment Dailv. Dec. 23, 1993. 

"Former Communist States Outline First Steps for Environmental
Cooperation." BNA International Environment Dailv. March 9, 1993.

Myers, Linnet. "Restoring Blue to Danube: Hungary Imports
Environmental Awareness." Chicago Tribune. March 15, 1993. 

"Romania Blames Epidemic on Polluted Water." The Reuter Library
Report. March 8, 1993. 

"Romania Denies Responsibility for Polluting Ruse Area."
Bulgarian Telegraph News Agencv. October 31, 1993. 

"Russia Ratifies Convention on Protecting Black Sea from
Pollution. ITAR-TASS News Agencv. August 12, 1993. 

United States Department of State "International Market Insight:
EBRD Procurement Opportunities, December 1993." American Embassy
London, December 15, 1993. 

United States Department of State. "Romania-lndustrial Profile."
American Embassy Bucharest, Octoher 18, 1993. 

"World Bank Lends $2 Billion in FY 1993 for "Primarily
Environmental" Projects." BNA International Environmental Daily.
September 20, 1993. 

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