The Dark Clouds of NATO

By: Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.

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Written: July 18, 1999

Appendix 7.3 to the "Assessment of Environmental Impact of Military Activities During the Yugoslavia Conflict - Preliminary Findings, June 1999" contains a list of 105 "Industrial Targets in Yugoslavia before June 5, 1999". Item 28 reads:

"Agricultural and food processing plant and a cow breeding farm with 220 milk cows 'Pester' in Sjenica have been destroyed."

Less than 60% of the targets have anything remotely to do with the military. Shoe factories, cigarette factories, a factory for the production and assembly of computer printers. Many food processing and meat processing plants.

This is the first shock, realizing that NATO lied through the well oiled propaganda machine of the CNN and other "objective" Western media.

The second shock is the sudden realization that if NATO lied - Serbia was telling the truth all along. And then the nagging addendum:

What else did NATO lie about?

The Assessment was prepared by The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe, a reputable NGO. It was commissioned by the European Commission DG-XI (Environment, Nuclear Safety and Civil Protection). The contract awarded bears the number B7-8110/99/61783/MAR/XI.1

It covered Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania. Forty pages of horror.

I am going to such lengths in providing the above details because the Assessment is nothing less than unbelievable.

It is difficult to know where to start. The Danube river was heavily polluted by PCBs, oil products, ammonia, ethylene dichloride, natrium hydroxide, hydrogen chloride - a thousand tonnes of each of the latter three alone. Oil was discovered in the Danube water as far as deep Romania and so were heavy metals (copper, cadmium, chromium and lead) at double the allowed maximum rates. Sewage (generated by the refugees) seeped into subsoil ad deeper aquifers in both Albania and Macedonia.

As opposed to all NATO claims, "radioactive pollution from depleted uranium weapons" has been registered. The Assessment explains drily: "The depleted uranium is radioactive and upon impact the material may turn into a mobile aerosol. Aside from emitting alpha radiation, uranium is chemically toxic." (p.16)

Polluted clouds of Vinyl Chloride Monomers (VCMs) at 10,600 times the permitted level drifted across Yugoslavia and so did "products from incomplete hydrocarbon combustion" - a sanitized term for poisonous gases. "Following the Pancevo incidents, a cloud of smoke some 15 kilometers in length lasted for 10 days. Concentrations of soot, SO2m and chlorocarbons increased by four-to-eight times the allowable limits."

The list continues in frightening, monotonous chemistrese:

Nitrogen oxides (from jet engines), hydrofluoric acid, heavy metals were released into the atmosphere (mercury, cadmium, chromium, copper and zinc). One of the results was torrential acid rains which spread into Romania. An example (p. 4): "In Timis County, Romania (north east of Belgrade), from April 18-26, 1999, the maximum allowed concentration for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ammonia was exceeded between 5-10 times." The assessment adds (p.5): "Much of the air and water pollution will eventually settle into the soil. This will be through rainfall or leaching." The agricultural land in both Albania and Macedonia has been "degraded ... from the siting of refugee camps".

Whole habitats and plant and animal populations were eradicated due to the air attacks. Chemical contaminants degraded the rest. "In FYR Macedonia, there has been a measurable increase in the presence of some species, presumably from Kosovo." This done not refer to the refugees, of course...

NATO committed itself not to bomb "protected areas" but these "have been directly affected by the conflict". In Albania, the pressure of refugees was so irresistible that refugee camps were built inside protected areas. "Negative health impacts are expected from damaged infrastructure (water and sewage systems) in Yugoslavia and from the poor conditions that prevail in some refugee camps. The report cites probable "transboundary" damages from "leakage and burning of the industrial complexes at Novi Sad, Prahovo and Pancevo, which produced acid rain and Danube river pollution, notably in the Iron Gates Reservoirs; the destruction of transformers (Kragujevac and near Belgrade); and the possible release of radioactive aerosols from depleted uranium weapons."

The Assessment does not forget to mention (p.5):

"The unique nature of such military activity also produces unique waste and pollution. These require specialized treatment and procedures for their removal. Unexploded munitions and land mines in their own way pollute the environment."

Not to mention one endangered species, the homo kosovansis. It migrated to Macedonia throughout the conflict, contributed mightily to the depletion of all its resources, watched its habitat reduced to rubble by foreign do-gooders and migrated back in long, sad, columns.

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