The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 1990 and 1999 Deselect

  1. With a hurricane blowing over southern Germany, Reactor Block B is shut down, and Block C's output reduced from 1300 to 500 MW. Later in the evening, Block C was powered up fully, and at 9.23 pm, Block B was again operational. These precautionary measures prevented any damage to the facility.

  2. The Erika breaks in half in heavy seas off the west coast of France and sinks to the sea bed with two thirds of its cargo. Special ships attempt to pump the remaining oil away (10,000 to 12,000 t). Nonetheless, the storm drives the oil slick onto the coast over Christmas, contaminating over 400 km of coastline and at least 6000 birds.

  3. The Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 5) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) met in Bonn, Germany, from 25 October - 5 November 1999. At COP 5 itself the Parties discussed a system of monitoring commitments and the design of the Kyoto mechanisms, especially the (Clean Development Mechnism, CDM). Guidelines were also drawn up for industrialised countries' national emissions reports.

  4. A serious incident at the Japanese reprocessing plant injures some technicians, killing two. Hundreds of people are exposed to radioactivity.

  5. A storm causes a short circuit in the Ukrainian nuclear power station, leading to a fire in the cooling system for the first reactor block. The fire can be kept under control (source: Greenpeace).

  6. The European Day of Parks was launched by the EUROPARC Federation with the aim of raising the profile of Europe's protected areas and generating public support for their aims and work. It was first held in 1999 and a broad variety of events in and about protected areas highlighting the need to protect these have been organised. Events have been celebrated across Europe on an annual basis on and around 24 May, a date that has been chosen to commemorate the creation of Europe's first nine national parks in Sweden on 24 May 1909.

  7. The Rumanian nuclear power station is shut down for 36 hours due to an interruption in the water supply (source: Greenpeace).

  8. Radioactive steam escapes from the ventilation system in the Russian power station. The exact levels of radiation or pollution are unknown (source: Greenpeace).

  9. When signing the new Convention on the Protection of the Rhine in Bern on 12 April 1999, the Governments of the five countries bordering the Rhine and the representative of the European Community formally confirmed their determination to reinforce their co-operation with a view to a continued protection of the valuable character of the Rhine, its banks and its flood plains. This convention substitutes the Bern Convention signed in 1963. The Convention entered into force on 1st January 2003.

  10. The fuel rods prove faulty, the reactor is shut down (source: Greenpeace).

  11. Russia cannot afford to maintain and make necessary repairs to the power station. One reason is the unpaid electricity bills (source: Greenpeace).

  12. During an inspection, an employee of the power station is exposed to radiation of 340 MilliSievert (the current permitted maximum is 50, and this was reduced to 20 as of May 2000). Scores 2 on the 7 point INES scale (source: Greenpeace).

  13. Russia cannot afford to maintain and make necessary repairs to the power station. One reason is the unpaid electricity bills (source: Greenpeace).

  14. The plant's sarcophagus threatens to collapse and requires urgent maintenance at a cost of c. 1 billion US$ (source: Greenpeace).

  15. The catastrophic financial situation at the power stations increases their risk. Only 2.4 to 5% of electricity bills are paid in cash, the rest in kind or not at all. Wages cannot be paid, fuel and replacement parts cannot be bought (source: Greenpeace).

  16. Radioactivity escapes from the shut down reprocessing plant in Karlsruhe through a defective ventilation system, briefly exposing 31 employees to contaminated air in three cases (source: Greenpeace).

  17. A turbine is shut down in a nuclear power station of the same type as in Chernobyl due to a leak in the cooling system, although no radioactive pollution arises (source: Greenpeace).

  18. The Darmstadt prosecution service investigates whether RWE broke the Atomic Energy Act and the Radiation Protection Ordinance. In November 1998, 17 inspections were made while Block B was operating, which should have been shut down for the test, as stated in the operating handbook (source: Greenpeace).

  19. Increased levels of radioactive Tritium (60 Bequerel/litre) are found in the ground water below the French power station. "Normal" levels are 35 bequerel/litre. (Scores 1 on 7 point INES scale). The facility had been shut down for several months in the previous autumn, following a series of faults (source: Greenpeace).

  20. This ordinance sets out the requirements, for the areas listed in the appendices, to be met when applying for permission to release waste water into water bodies.

  21. Steam escapes from an auxiliary pipe in the turbine system in Block 6. Atomic scientists and station managers write in a letter to President Kuschma that the enduring crisis in Ukrainian nuclear energy is a danger to national security, and that the lack of subsidies is affecting both technology and personnel (source: Greenpeace).

  22. The simplest safety work at the nuclear power station near St Petersburg (of the same type as that at Chernobyl) is now subject to delays of at least 2 years. A burst pipe in the cooling system is still not under control (source: Greenpeace).

  23. On February 4, 1999, the supertanker New Carissa ran aground near Coos Bay/ Oregon leaking about 70,000 gallons of oil and killing 2,300 seabirds.

  24. An employee is killed during a fire at the nuclear power station north of Moscow. The fire was caused by painting work in the ventilation shafts. Both reactors continued to operate, further damage is unknown (source: Greenpeace).

  25. Defects in the earthquake protection system are found in all four reactors in the French power station. In case of an earthquake, this could cause the control systems to fail (source: Greenpeace).

  26. Bird of the Year 1999 is the Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella).

  27. Medicinal Plant of the Year 1999 is the Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum).

  28. The third European Conference on Environment and Health is Europe's largest political event in this area. Ministers for Health, Transport and the Environment from 51 European countries take part. The conference produces: a protocol on water and public health; a charta on transport, the environment and health; a statement by ministers. NGOs, experts and companies take part in the "Healthy Planet" forum.

  29. On 1st of April the "Act on the Introduction of the Ecological Tax Reform" entered into force with the first phase of this reform. The mineral oil tax has been raised and the electricity tax was introduced. The "Act on the Continuation of the Ecological Tax Reform" (16 Dec. 1999) provided for further raisings of the mineral and electricity taxes in four steps from 2000 to 2003.

  30. Flower of the Year 1999 is the Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).

  31. Tree of the Year 1999 is the White willow (Salix alba).

  32. Fish of the Year: Houting (Coregonus oxyrhynchus)

  33. Insect of the Year is organised by Deutsches Entomologisches Institut; Bundesverband Deutsche Ameisenschutzwarte e.V.; Deutsche Gesellschaft für allgemeine und angewandte Entomologie; Entomofaunistische Gesellschaft; Förderkreis Waldschule e.V. Eberswalde; Landesforstanstalt Eberswalde; Landesverband für Obstbau, Garten und Landschaft Baden-Württemberg, Kreisverband Heidelberg; Münchner Entomologische Gesellschaft; Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Sparkasse Barnim; Insekt des Jahres Österreich; Österreichische Entomologische Gesellschaft Naturschutzbund Österreich; Institut für Naturschutz; Insekt des Jahres Schweiz

  34. Insect of the Year 1999 is the Green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea).

  35. Orchid of the Year 1999: Lizard orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum).

  36. Fungus of the Year 1999 is the Devil's bolete or Satan's mushroom (Boletus satanas).

  37. After a breakdown in the security lock, the French nuclear power station in Alsace is shut down. The incident rates a 1 on the 7-point INES scale (source: Greenpeace).

  38. As in October, slightly radioactive water leaks from a defective weld in the water feed to Block C (source: Greenpeace).

  39. The Fourth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 4) took place from 2 to 14 November 1998, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Parties reached agreement on the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, which specified that the detailed structure of the Kyoto Protocol should be completed by the 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties at the latest. establishing deadlines for finalizing work on the Kyoto Mechanisms (Joint Implementation, Emissions Trading and the Clean Development Mechanism), compliance issues and policies and measures.