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Press Release

New Report by UNEP and the European Commission Lists Recommendations for Ukraine's Oil Spill Recovery
19/ 11/ 2008

New Report by UNEP and the European Commission Lists  Recommendations for Ukraine's Oil Spill RecoveryThe report lists recommendations to help Ukraine complete its recovery from the oil spill that occurred in the Kerch Strait in November 2007, when a severe storm caused the Volgoneft-139 to release over 1,300 tonnes of fuel oil into the sea. The resulting extensive physical damage to the sea and land led to property losses, contamination of the marine and coastal flora and fauna, as well as high clean-up costs and significant revenue losses for local industries.

Kiev/Geneva, 19 November 2008 – A clean-up of Ukraine's oil-contaminated shoreline is required one year after a major oil spill in the Kerch Strait, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Commission (EC).

The report lists recommendations to help Ukraine complete its recovery from the oil spill that occurred in the Kerch Strait in November 2007, when a severe storm caused the Volgoneft-139 to release over 1,300 tonnes of fuel oil into the sea. The resulting extensive physical damage to the sea and land led to property losses, contamination of the marine and coastal flora and fauna, as well as high clean-up costs and significant revenue losses for local industries.

At the request of the Government of Ukraine, UNEP and the EC undertook a comprehensive Post-Disaster Needs Assessment in the summer of 2008 to assess the environmental impacts of the spill, as well as economic losses and the institutional capacity of the government to respond to these types of environmental disasters.

The detailed report that was released today in Kiev provides a series of recommendations to improve oil spill preparedness and response in Ukraine. Recommendations are particularly targeted at strengthening strategic policy, contingency planning, information management, environmental monitoring and assessment, and waste management.

The coastal and marine investigation revealed that even though the toxicity of the released oil was low, the impact on the surrounding marine flora, fauna and littoral species was significant. The presence of oil will continue to cause physical harm until the incriminated ship is removed from the seabed. Complete clean-up of the large quantities of oil-contaminated shoreline material found along Kerch Strait should also be considered a high priority to minimize risks to wildlife and human well-being.

The study also concludes that in addition to the costs that have been shouldered by the Ukrainian budget for clean-up of the oil spill, the region continues to suffer significant economic impacts from the loss of revenue in the region's two main industries, tourism and fisheries.

With regard to Ukraine's institutional capacity to manage environmental disasters, the report notes that while many institutions have a high level of capacity, better coordination of emergency response could improve the quality of the recovery. The development of contingency plans at all relevant levels of government, in accordance with best international practice, is therefore a principal recommendation of the report.

Assistance from bilateral and multilateral donors in this area will not only help Ukraine to improve environmental management within its territorial waters, but could also have positive implications in a broader regional context.

Notes to Editors:
The full report is available on: http://postconflict.unep.ch/publications/ukraine_pdna.pdf

For more information please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel: +41 795 96 57 37, or E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Silja Halle, UNEP Communications Advisor, on Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 8441, or E-mail: silja.halle@unep.ch

Mr. David Stulik, Press Officer, EC Delegation to Ukraine, on Tel: +38044 3908010, or Email: David.Stulik@ec.europa.eu

Further Resources
OIL Spill in the Kerch Strait - Ukraine Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDF)