Severe lead pollution threatens France's Kosovo troops

PARIS, Aug 2, 2000 -- (AFP) Severe pollution from a lead factory near the mining town of Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo is threatening the health of locals and French peacekeeping troops deployed there, the French defense ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry asked former French health minister Bernard Kouchner, the head of the UN mission in Kosovo, to "temporarily limit" the operations of the factory in Zvecan, just outside Mitrovica, and bring the factory's waste into compliance with international norms.

If the high rate of pollution remained, it could have "consequences for the health of the people living in the area," the ministry added.

The factory began producing more lead recently, the ministry said, and "bad climatic conditions" can lead to an increase in the lead pollution level in the area.

Mitrovica, located in the midst of the vast but run-down Trepca mining complex, is the most polluted city in the UN-administered Yugoslav province.

It is also the centre of the French-led northern sector of the multinational peacekeeping force KFOR.

Original article