Mission Report

UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit Mission Report – 2008 Albania Explosion

This mission report describes the findings of a expert deployed by the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit and the United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) to evaluate the environmental impact of an explosion at an ammunition facility in Albania.

On 15 March 2008, a large explosion occurred at an ammunition decommissioning facility west of Albania’s capital Tirana. The explosion killed 26 people, injured 300, and over 4,000 people were evacuated. Upon the request of the Albanian Government and the UN Resident Coordinator, a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team was deployed. The JEU deployed an UNDAC-trained UN Environment staff member to evaluate the environmental impact of the explosion and provided an analysis of samples of soil and ground water.

The analysis of the soil samples was provided by the Swiss Spiez laboratory and did not indicate critical levels of hazardous substances or heavy metals. However, the overall assessment of environmental impacts determined that the area around the depot should be considered an environmental hotspot. For the immediate response phase, it was recommended that unexploded ordnance be cleared and that hazardous substances be stopped from draining directly into the downhill river. Environmental actions recommended for the reconstruction phase were included in an appeal to the international community, with estimated costs of approximately 9.2 million US dollars.

Consult the report here.

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