Sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution from thermal power plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina increased ten times more than allowed in 2020, despite investments in desulphurization at the Ugljevik thermal power plant, a new report shows.
The report of the non-profit organization CEE Bankwatch and the Center for Energy and Clean Air Research (CREA), in cooperation with the Center for Ecology and Energy and the Center for the Environment, states that last year the total SO2 emissions from thermal power plants in the Western Balkans were 2, 5 times higher than the total emission of all thermal power plants in the European Union (EU).
“The biggest culprit for sulfur dioxide emissions in the region is the Ugljevik thermal power plant, whose emissions exceed the sum of restrictions for all four countries in the region that have national plans to reduce emissions, while Kakanj 7 emitted 15 times more SO2 than allowed. In addition, the Gacko thermal power plant is the biggest culprit in the emission of suspended particles, emitting five times more than allowed “, the report points out.
Health models show that, from 2018 to 2020, almost 19,000 deaths were related to emissions from coal-fired power plants in the Western Balkans, BHRT writes.
“The attached results show all the nonsense about the desulphurization plant in RITE Ugljevik. Too much money and time has been invested for this plant to function only occasionally for pro-forma – someone here is playing with money and human lives, but no one is still responsible “, says Majda Ibrakovic from the Center for the Environment.
Denis Zisko from the Center for Ecology and Energy warned that it is high time that BH politicians “seriously, stop spending time and money on fairy tales about replacement blocs and start fulfilling their international obligations.”
From 2018, the countries of the Western Balkans have an obligation to reduce emissions from thermal power plants in accordance with the EU Directive on Large Fireplaces. However, in 2020, thermal power plants in BiH covered by the National Emission Reduction Plan emitted as much as ten times more sulfur dioxide than allowed – 220,411 tons, while the allowed emissions were 22,195 tons, according to environmental organizations.
“For power plants that cannot be closed immediately, governments must limit the number of working hours until emission standards are met, in order to save lives. At the same time, investments in energy efficiency measures and sustainable forms of renewable energy must be urgently stepped up, and together with all relevant actors, especially affected communities, it is necessary to develop plans for a fair transition for workers and communities, “said Davor Pehcevski from the network CEE Bankwatch.