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Cluj, Romania - Ten central and eastern European states pledged on Friday to cut back the level of pollution caused by their mining activities.
The commitment was made at a conference in the northwestern Romanian town of Cluj at a meeting organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
"We now have an undertaking by regional countries to attack the threats whch result from mining and associated industries," UNEP executive director Klaus Toepfer, said.
A survey carried out by the UNEP identified about 50 closed or abandoned mines which posed a real risk to the health of local people and the environment.
Most of the sites concerned were involved in mining zinc, copper, cadmium, silver and gold and are located in Albania. Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia and Serbia-Montenegro.
But the UNEP says that active mines can also be dangerous,and cited the case of a gold mine in northern Romania whch caused serious cyanide pollution in 2000.
Several rivers in the region, including the Danube, were polluted when 100 000 cubic metres of cyanide-polluted water were released.