The Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations of the European Commission (DG ECHO) organized a four-day scoping mission between 4-7th of July 2016 to Solotvino (Ukraine), where the abandoned and neglected salt mine poses a significant contamination threat of the Tisza River and also threatens the livelihoods of those living in the region. The five-member scoping mission team was made up of British, Finnish, French, Hungarian and Latvian experts.

A few years ago, a significant amount of salt concentrate was measured on the Hungarian section of the Tisza River, which gave the situation at Solotvino an important cross-border element. The current state of affairs at the site requires quick and efficient measures that will provide secure housing to those living in Solotvino, and will also mitigate the negative cross-border environmental consequences of the Tisza River contamination.

In coordination of the Secretariat for the Danube Region Strategy Ministerial Commissioner of Hungary, the disaster management services of Ukraine and Hungary have requested the support of the European Commission in January 2016, in order to comprehensively map out of the cross border environmental emergency situation at Solotvino. The abandoned salt mines continuously contaminate the Tisza River with unknown quantities of salt, while the residential buildings of the area are also under constant threat because of the quickly forming craters (some craters can reach depths of 110-120 meters, and can form in matter of hours).

As an immediate result of the scoping mission, a Terms of Reference has been created by the members of the mission, which outlines the need for immediate action in the area. The Hungarian EUSDR Secretariat – being the co-coordinator of PA4 and PA5 – will continue playing a significant role in finding a sustainable solution to this crisis.