During November 2015; Arnika (CZ) and EkoForum Zenica (BiH) are conducting a series of meetings with citizens that live in areas most affected by pollution. The documentarists Martin Bartkovský and Adelina Grafika managed to capture the current adverse environmental situation in town as the winter approaching has brought along frequent inversions. Living conditions in city of Zenica are quite challenging as the ArcelorMittal steelworks, the main industrial facility and at the same time the main polluter, are now operating for almost a full year regardless of the expired environmental permits. The common goal of the two organisations is to raise awareness about the adverse effects of pollution to both environment and human health and show the citizens a way out of a dead end. This is why we prepared two new publications, listing health hazards connected to environmental pollution and advising on possible ways how to fight pollution: What can we do to decrease pollution? and Pollution and health (download in Bosnian).

Citizens seeking guidance of their legal steps to fight pollution are invited to the Aarhus consultation centre in Zenica which is open for consultations and professional assistance not only at the Open Doors Day.

Photo: Adelina Grafika 

 

Rača is a huge unfenced dump area located just above Tetovo settlement and is used for disposal of industrial waste produced by ArcelorMittal. Huge part of its tailings can contain hazardous toxic substances. Despite of possible risks, the authorities do not keep record of it and access to the wastedump still remains free.
 
Filming inversion situations and keeping track of different emissions level in town was an everyday task of the Arnika´s team of documentarists.
Photo: Kamila Zatloukalová, Arnika
 
Giant cranes cutting through the hillside at Kakanj surface coalmine. Brown coal produced here is mostly used as a fuel for domestic heatings in the surrounding area.
 
Photo: Kamila Zatloukalová, Arnika
 
On the way to the surface mine for brown coal, we finally reached the altitude above the inversion layer. Air is fresh here, and comfort people in about 60 houses of the local village called Mramor, but the landscape across the hill is deeply scarred by surface mining. 
 
 
At the tailings dump, one can observe residues of coal layers coated by silt. The landscape of the whole valley is destroyed, even though the mine on the other side of the hill is rather small scale.
 
Sun setting in Zenica and the last rays alluminate the neon monitoring screen, showing not so dramatic hourly average of SO2:116mg/m3. However, these numbers are going to rise with the approaching night that will cool the air and the omnious chimneys of the AMZ factory, that never cease to spout exhalations. 
 
The extent of the tailings dump area at Mramor mine. Lunar landscape that is not longer active will still take a lot of time to recover. On the other side of the hill, it is still growing.
 
Thermal power plant and cement factory in Kakanj with new dust filters installed on the high chimney. This investment significantly helped to decrease air pollution in the area.
 
This is an very common picture from the autumn scenery at Zenica. The air so thick, that one can barely see through. Concentrations of pollutants in the air rise on such occasions, which the inhabitants can indicate thanks to the newly installed monitoring displays.
 
ArcelorMittal, operating without valid environmental permits, is a major polluter in the area contributing largely to the dense air pollution of the city of Zenica. This is Zenica captured in the afternoon sun, late November 2015.
 
Photo: Kamila Zatloukalová, Arnika
 
Consultation centre opened its doors on Thursday 19 November to give citizens free consultation and legal assistance in filing individual compensation claims. Martin Skalský, Arnika (CZ) warned the citizens about risks of consumption of domestically produced chicken eggs on selected localities around ArcelorMittal steelworks. 
 
The mining industry is slowly consuming the landscape and contributing to the loss of natural landscape in the area. 
 
Heavy trucks touring at the tailings dump adjacent to the surface mine for brown coal near the town Kakanj, Central Bosnia. On the already green patches of tailings, cows are grazing at peace; seemingly undisturbed by the roaring of trucks. 
 
On the programme of the Open Doors Day was also a screening of a movie Exposure: The Factory from Michael Simkin, 2011, Wild Pictures. The story of the steelworks in Ostrava and in Zenica are very similar and the movie initiated a heated debate.
 
The unexpected final of the Open Doors Day - delicious burek from a local production, brought for the team of Arnika. This can only happen at the Balkans.
 
The visit at the Ministry - the newly adopted Minister could not disclose any detailed information nor confirm any of the Deputees for the meeting, saying that they have recently been unavailable for reasons unknown to her.
 
Surprisingly enough, we saw the Deputy that works on processing of the environmental permits for the industrial facilities like ArcelorMittal Zenica on the street in front of the Ministry. He walked away as soon as he noticed us. 
 
The team expecting a meeting with a Deputy Minister, in front of the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Sarajevo. Planning to face him with questions reagarding the long expired environmental permit and reasons for inaction of the authorities.
 
Hanumica Imamović, a local activist from Tetovo, among others at a public forum in Tetovo. Eko Forum Zenica in collaboration with Arnika provides information for the communities most affected by pollution. Tetovo is one of them.
 
Arnika and Eko Forum informed citizens from the most exposed areas adjacent to the ArcelorMittal factory about possible health hazards of pollution and proposed ways how to act in situations of high pollution, including legal tools for remediation. 
 
The air in Zenica was thick and pollution was high for the whole period of our activities in November 2015.
 
Doors of another community settlement were open for the public forum on health effects of pollution and possible ways out of the bad environmental situation. People got actively engaged in the debate and the atmosphere was tense. 
 
Rača is an industrial waste dump located just above the steelworks ArcelorMittal Zenica. People and vehicles are allowed to pass a wide concrete road that leads right through the middle of the territory. On the waste dump, you can spot many stray dogs that found their shelter here.
 
Rača is an industrial waste dump located just above the steelworks ArcelorMittal Zenica. This site provides shelter not only for stray dogs, but also for people that dig useable resources out of the disposed material on the waste dump. Nobody talks about the risk of such activity in contact with toxic waste.
 
Most apparent inhabitants of the waste dump - stray dogs. Rača serves not only as disposal of industrial waste from ArcelorMittal, but also as an illegal waste dump for the people from the surroundings. Nobody keeps track of the content of the disposed waste. 
 
 
 

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