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Common Market Bars Fresh Food From Soviet Bloc With Chernobyl Nuclear

May 12, 1986

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The European Common Market decided Monday to bar imports of fresh food from the Soviet Union and six East European nations affected by radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, officials said.

″We do have a decision now on an import ban,″ said Hans van den Broek, the Dutch foreign minister who led the final deliberations in the 12-nation Common Market, known formally as the European Economic Community - EEC.

Van den Broek told a news conference after nine hours of discussions with his fellow foreign ministers that the ban would take effect as soon as its details were published in official EEC registers, which he said would occur ″very soon.″

Poland said the action would cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in lost exports and invited Western experts to inspect its anti-radiation controls. An official in Warsaw said the communist government would protest to the EEC.

Hungary also criticized the action.

The Roman Catholic Church in Poland began distributing powdered milk and other supplies flown to Warsaw in the first shipment of U.S. aid to Poles affected by the Soviet nuclear power plant accident April 26 in the Ukraine.

Conservative members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, submitted a resolution suggesting that the Common Market send food to the Soviet Union and other countries in Eastern Europe, but only in exchange for Soviet concessions on human rights.

The parliament is to debate EEC reaction to the Chernobyl accident Thursday.

All Common Market nations had supported the import ban since the EEC executive commission proposed it last Tuesday, but formal approval was held up by internal disputes.

It applies to a specific list of products. Van den Broek said it would be reviewed May 31 and eased if warranted by scientific asssessments of radioactivity in Eastern Europe.

Although details have not been published, the ban as proposed by the executive commission would affect the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia , Hungary, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia.

The foreign ministers failed to reach final agreement on setting new standards on radioactivity tolerance levels for fresh food products traded within the Common Market, van den Broek said, and ″it emerged very clearly that we needed a more scientific definition of tolerance levels.″

The U.S. aid shipment to Poland was sent by Americares, a private relief agency.

Bishop Czeslaw Domin of Katowice, head of the Catholic church charity commission, said the milk products, vitamins and medicines would be distributed through parishes in all 27 Polish dioceses.

″It was for our people a very great sign that we are not forgotten, that you have helped us,″ Domin told American officials in Warsaw.

Church officials said part of the supplies already have been taken by trucks to Siedlce and Olsztyn in northeastern Poland, the region most seriously affected by contamination from the nuclear accident.

A chartered Boeing 747 jumbo jet arrived from New York on Saturday carrying 100,000 pounds of protein-enriched dried milk, 60,000 pounds of sterilized long-life milk, 1.3 million multivitamin tablets and 600,000 doses of potassium iodide, which can protect people from some harmful effects of radiation.

The shipment also contained several purifiers to remove radioactive particles from water, according to officials of Americares in New Canaan, Conn.

Update hourly