Yesterday, the Aarhus Center Zenica presented the list of the companies that are the biggest air pollutants in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) for 2018. The list is led by the company Arcelor Mittal Zenica, then the thermal power plant Tuzla, Ugljevik, and Gacko, cement plants Lukavac and Kakanj, coke plant GIKIL, as well as the refinery in Slavonski Brod.
The list was created based on a database on pollutants that was created together with Arnika organizations from the Czech Republic and the Zenica Eco Forum.
Arnika and the Zenica Eco Forum are publishing data that they have been collecting from the competent institutions since 2011, and this year, for the first time, an alternative database of polluters is also showing data from the Republika Srpska (RS).
Professor Samir Lemes from the Zenica Eco Forum emphasized that there has been a “slight improvement in data transparency” since the annual reports are finally publicly available on the Internet.
“However, the official websites are not user-friendly and only experts can understand what these numbers represent. That is why we interpret this data and believe that the public will use it to act against polluters and the authorities. Without public participation, the state of the environment will never improve, ” told Lemes.
By comparing the data from ten years ago, he noted, it is possible to identify which companies are investing in modernization and technologies for the protection of the environment and human health.
So, as it was said, thermal power plant Ugljevik achieved investment in emissions by building a desulphurization plant in 2019, and investments in dust filters helped to significantly reduce pollution from the Kakanj cement plant, while it is considered that the main reason for reducing emissions from the Arcelor Mittal Zenica plant was a decline in production due to the global economic crisis.
As Martin Skalski from the Czech town of Arnika established, the data submitted by industrial plants are not reliable, because they also contain a huge number of errors, so almost 90 percent of these data are irrelevant. Also, it is important to mention that the two entities use different systems and different methodologies.
Skalski stated that in 2003, BiH signed, and since 2009 it has been following the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers, which is an integral part of the Aarhus Convention.
“According to that protocol, the states have committed themselves to publicly publish data on pollution. To date, it has been ratified by 37 countries and as a separate entity, the European Union (EU), but it has not yet been ratified by the BiH Parliament. So, this system is not obligatory for the industry, ” Skalski stressed.
He pointed out that without “transparency of pollution data, which is the main step on the path to cleaner air”, state bodies cannot act, so the public and the media are not able to control the situation.
“On the other hand, there is no information at all about the amounts of heavy metals that pose a serious threat to human health. For comparison, in the Czech Republic, 1.334 plants reported emissions in 2018, and the reports include 35 pollutants only in the air, with data on discharges into the soil, wastewater, and waste. In the Federation of BiH (FBiH), the reports consist of 19 air pollutants, and in the RS only 6 chemicals. The situation is not improving, and the number of reported substances nowadays is basically the same as in 2011, ” concluded Skalski, BHRT writes.