Activists of Arnika (CZ) and Eko Forum Zenica (BiH) meet the pollution victims end explain them how to protect their rights on the April 2015 mission. Several interviews on camera were made with people living in the vicinity of huge steelworks of multi-national corporation Arcelor Mittal suffer from constant poisoning caused by the air pollution. The living conditions in the city are adverse, and the stakeholders seem not to apply any serious means to stop the steelworks from polluting the environment. We feel that there is a desperate need for debate about the current issues and fast action. Representatives of the Arcelor Mittal company as well as responsible authorities – Ministry of Environment and Federal Environmental Inspection, did not come to discuss this issue which troubles the whole city to the round table that the activists organized. Will the lawsuits against those guilty help?

 

Photo: Adelina Grafika

 Welcome to Zenica, central Bosnia! Chimneys of Arcelor Mittal – huge obsolete steelworks owned by multinational corporation – the biggest polluter in town.
 
Activists of Arnika (CZ) and Eko-Forum Zenica (BiH) on a joint mission to monitor the impact of the factory on local populations.
 
Gračanica, suburb of Zenica. Family houses are in this area directly adjacent to the industrial zone of ArcelorMittal.
 
 A bad joke. Cemetery at the Tetovo village is located just outside the fence of the steelworks.
 
 Financial support of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs enabled to establish a public Consultation Centre in Zenica. Samir Lemes, director of Eko-Forum (right).
 
You cannot miss this unusually-shaped block of flats from Yugoslavian era when passing the Fra Ivana Franje Jukića street.
 
Office of the most influential non-governmental organization in town, Eko-Forum, is located at busy central street. The team is preparing for the public events.
 
One of the tasks of the mission is to collect samples of eggs from free-range chicken and ask the breeders a set of question to assess all the factors. 
The eggs will be sent to laboratory to analyse them for content of dioxines and other substances. 
 
Local people living in the vicinity of heavy industry speak openly about pollution, fighting for clean air and loosing hope of being able to reach justice.
 
Sisters from Gračanica who shared their story with us. Many of their neighbours and relatives died from cancer. 
 
Although comprehensive statistics are missing, local people and doctors are convinced that the steelworks is guilty for increased morbidity and causes number of untimely deaths every year. The main factor - the air pollution.
 
Villagers near the steelworks never ceased to cultivate their gardens, although they speak about fear that pollution from the factory might affect their crops and vegetables.
 
Edita Šišić, president of Parents' council at the Elementary school "Hasan Kikić" Tetovo, is one of the most active people in the village. She joined Eko-Forum and struggles to protect the environment and her small children.
 
Arnika and Eko-Forum collected samples of free-range chicken eggs, to analyse possible contamination by dioxines and other toxic substances.
 
Villagers live in the surroundings of the steelworks. Here they have their gardens and keep domestic animals. They are not aware of the possible contamination of their environment.
 
Citizens of Tetovo are glad that non-governmental organizations are trying to help them. They feel that the authorities do not care enough about the situation and the well being of local communities.
 
 Son of Edita, 9-year old Davud, likes the life of the village – and enjoys playing with the chicken.
 
Almost summer in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Martin, Martin and Kamila at 2015 mission.
 
Zenica – city centre. Even though the main boulevard build in socialistic times does not offer the visitor any sight of unique architecture, the city has quite pleasant atmosphere and is bustling with life.
 
Thousands of people directly neighbor to the complex of Arcelor Mittal steelworks. In the foreground: ArcelorMittal, followed by residential houses with Rača, huge deposit of industrial waste above and village settlement atop of it. 
 
Plastic foil greenhouses provide at least some extent of protection to the home-grown vegetables. The metal dust and pollution does not enter the soil directly.
 
 After the mass protests in the city, the municipality installed information panels on the highest buildings in town. It informs about up-to-date concentrations of dust and sulphur dioxide in the air.
 
Ekran cinema in Zenica. Preview of the documentary film on environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, shot by Arnika in 2014, is about to begin.
 
The cinema gradually fills up. The first row, reserved for the city representatives and authorities and local politicians, remains empty so far.
 
At the Bosna river. Parks in the city and surrounding green hills determine Zenica to be centre of tourism and leisure … had it not to been the factory.
 
Round table on environmental permits and pollution of the city: a play without the main characters. Representatives of Arcelor Mittal, Fedaral Ministry of Environment and Environmental Inspection did not appear at the meeting…
 
Martin Skalsky and Samir Lemes. Arnika and Eko-Forum are trying to find ways how to bring industrial companies to responsibility.
 
Captain of the local football club at the training. And the name of the footbal club in Zenica? - Čelik (Steel), of course. 
 
The football stadium is located perversely just behind the chimneys of the steelworks. How is it to train in such conditions?
 
How to protect pollution victims? Public debate at the Faculty of Law of Zenica University. Lawyers contributed with their ideas to the legal actions plan of Eko-Forum Zenica.
 
Eko-Forum Zenica plans to initiate legal actions against the steelworks polluting air, and also inactive state authorities which do not take any measures to improve the current ecologic situation.
 
Director of the cantonal hospital of Zenica. Many people in the city suffer from respiratory and heart diseases, allergies as well as from cancer.
 
Mittal poisons us! Graffiti on the walls that are a silent reminder of the winter protests in the streets.
 
Can we trust homemade food? People living under the chimneys of Arcelor Mittal live in fear that pollution might contaminate their gardens.
 
Nobody investigates the real impact of the pollution of steelworks on the lives of people around.
 
Pupils of elementary school Hasan Kikić Tetovo have special lessons dedicated to environment and its protection.
 
Distance from school to industrial complex: 300m. Children can hardly find a place to play – the complex of steelworks stretches for five kilometres along the river. 
 
Elementary school? Heavy rains in 2014 leaked through the roof and damaged the walls. The roof is currently under reconstruction. 
 
Although there is a rich multi-national company producing steel just opposite the school, that could care for the well being of the residents in its vicinity, this reconstruction has to be paid by UNDP.
 
Welcome to Mordor. 
 
Uncertain future. Many people in Tetovo are unemployed and even their children cannot count on a rapid change…
 
Samir Kubat, chairman of the local community Tetovo, is fighting against extreme pollution for many years. He complains on both authorities and the company for ignoring the well being of the villagers.
 
Terrorist attack? Explosion? Emergency situation? Don’t worry, this is just an everyday practice of Arcelor Mittal.
 
Eternal fire on the ArcelorMittal chimneys. Some of the local people demand resettlement, as the pollution is not getting any better.
 
 
 

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