Romania steps up efforts to clean its rivers running into Hungary

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Reacting to Hungarian complaints that the rivers running from Romania into Hungary are being clogged with trash and flotsam, the Bucharest Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forestry has replied that Romania is taking measures to reduce the environmental strain.

The ministry said in a statement that the amount of floating debris has increased in rivers due to the chaotic weather of recent weeks. Indeed, in the recent period, cooling and intense warming have alternated, and in the latter time, not only rainwater but also melting snow in the mountains has increased the flow of rivers.

According to the ministry — led by ethnic Hungarian Barna Tánczos — in times of flood risk, rivers cannot be effectively cleaned of floating debris, which consists primarily of plastic bottles, other plastics, and wood waste. According to the announcement, on Feb. 4, Romanian authorities warned the competent Hungarian authorities about the difficulties of water treatment.

The ministry also reported that in the last two years, platforms have been developed in the bed of the most important rivers to allow intervention during potential river pollution. At the same time, water authorities regularly warn riverside municipalities of their riverbed-cleaning responsibilities and impose penalties if they see illegal dumping in riverbeds. The ministry also mentioned that in the long run, educating the population and introducing responsible waste management could be the solution.

Romanian news agency Agerpres recalled that last July, Hungarian President János Áder wrote a letter asking the presidents of Ukraine and Romania to take action to keep the rivers clean. The head of state explained that the waste shipped to Hungary is also epidemiologically dangerous and hinders both fishing and tourism, and also has a serious impact on wildlife. Last year, Áder also informed the president of the European Commission in a letter about the problem that is recurring year after year.

The National Institute of Water and Water Management (INHGA) in Romania issued a second-level (amber) flood warning on the tributaries of the Tisza on Tuesday. According to the warning, there is a large amount of water flowing from the mountains, Visó, Iza, Kraszna, Berettyó, and Fekete-Körös. The first Romanian tributaries of the Tisza, with the exception of the Maros, are under a first-level (yellow) flood warning.

Title image: Hungarian intervention teams cleaning the Tisza river of debris arriving from Romania. (source: MTI)

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