VISEGRAD, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) – Tons of waste dumped in riverside landfills or directly into waterways flowing through the three countries collect behind a garbage barrier in the wet and early winter air on the Drina River in eastern Bosnia. spring.
This week, the embankment has once again become the outer edge of a giant floating waste dump filled with plastic bottles, rusty barrels, used tires, appliances, driftwood and other debris picked up by the river’s tributaries.
Local environmental activists complain that the river fences installed by Bosnia’s hydroelectric power plant a few kilometers upstream from its dam near Visegrad have turned the city into an unwanted regional dumping ground.
Over the past week, heavy rain and unsettled hot weather have flooded many rivers and streams in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro, flooding surrounding areas and forcing many people to flee their homes. As a result of the rain that fell on Friday turned into snow, the temperature dropped in many regions.
Dejan Furtula of the environmental group Eko Centar Visegrad said: “In recent days there has been a lot of rain and flash floods and a large flow of water from Montenegro (tributaries of the river Drina), which is now fortunately decreasing.”
“Unfortunately, the huge flow of garbage has not stopped,” he added.
The Drina River flows 346 kilometers (215 mi) through the mountains of northwestern Montenegro through the territory of Serbia and Bosnia. and some of its tributaries are known for their emerald color and breathtaking views. A section along the border between Bosnia and Serbia is famous for its river stones when it’s not “garbage season”.
Furtula said that in recent days, about 10,000 cubic meters (more than 353,000 cubic feet) of waste have accumulated behind the Drina River’s garbage barrier. In recent years, the same amount has been withdrawn from that area of the river.
Garbage removal takes up to six months on average. It ends up at the municipal landfill in Visegrad, where Furtula says “even (the city) doesn’t have enough capacity to manage municipal waste.”
“Fires at the (municipal) landfill are always burning,” he said, calling the conditions there “not only a huge environmental and health hazard, but also a huge embarrassment to all of us.”
Decades after the devastating wars of the 1990s that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, the Balkans lag behind the rest of Europe, both economically and environmentally.
Although countries in the region want to join the European Union and have adopted some EU laws and regulations, they have made little progress in establishing effective, environmentally friendly waste disposal systems.
Illegal dumping litters the hills and valleys of the region, littering the roads and plastic bags hanging from trees.
In addition to river pollution, many countries in the Western Balkans have other environmental problems. One of the most pressing is the extremely high air pollution affecting a number of cities in the region.
“People need to wake up to problems like this,” said Visegrad resident Rados Brekalovic.
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