From: Associated Press
Published October 14, 2004 12:00 AM

E.U. Urges Ukraine to Postpone Completion of a Shipping Canal

KIEV, Ukraine — The European Union is urging Ukrainian authorities to postpone completion of a shipping canal in the Danube Delta, citing environmental concerns.

A statement from an E.U. expert panel that visited Ukraine this month urged authorities "not to launch the second phase" of the project of deepening and widening the 170-kilometer (105-mile) canal through the Danube's Bystre Estuary, one of Europe's most important wetland sites.

The team, which also included U.N. environmental experts, urged Ukrainian authorities "to address the challenges related to ... environmental effects and trans-boundary impacts of such projects," said the statement.

The building of the channel linking the Black Sea and the Danube has already drawn criticism from U.S. and European officials and has led to a dispute between Ukraine and neighboring Romania, which repeatedly has demanded a halt to the work.

At a conference in Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odessa last week, more than 40 environmentalist organizations from Europe, Ukraine, and Russia warned the canal was built in a way that would endanger the environment.

Ukrainian authorities have so far refused to stop the project, arguing that the canal is needed to improve access to the Black Sea and boost the local economy.

The Danube Delta is divided between Romania, which has more than 90 percent of the territory with some 580,000 hectares (about 1.5 million acres), and Ukraine, which has 46,000 hectares (113,600 acres).

Source: Associated Press

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