The air in Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the dirtiest in Europe (1) and in 2020 it was ranked 10th for PM2.5 pollution in the world (2). Despite this, citizens still find it difficult to understand: who is responsible? Although state authorities have been obliged to collect and publish pollution data since 2003, they are unable to launch an adequate system so far. The non-governmental organizations Arnika (Czechia) and Eko forum Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) published Top 10 biggest polluters in 2018 (3) based on available data. They urge governments to ensure access to information for all major industries. The top ten biggest polluters in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found here.
Unsurprisingly, the large factories usually considered to be the culprits of pollution topped the top ten for 2018: ArcelorMittal Zenica, thermal power plants in Tuzla, Ugljevik, Gacko, cement kilns in Lukavac and Kakanj, coking plant GIKIL and refinery in Slavonski Brod. . Arnika and Eko forum Zenica publish the data collected from the state authorities since 2011. For the first time, the alternative database presents the industries of the two entities of the country.
“There has been a slight improvement in data transparency by 2019, as annual emissions reports are finally publicly available online (4). However, official websites are not user-friendly and only experts can figure out what the numbers stand for. That’s why we interpret the data and believe the public will use it to take action against polluters and authorities. Without public demand, environmental conditions will never improve, ”said Samir Lemeš from Eko Forum Zenica.
Comparing data from the last decade allows us to recognize which companies are investing in modernization and technologies to protect the environment and human health. The decrease in pollution from the Ugljevik coal-fired power plant was caused by investments in desulphurization in 2019. ArcelorMittal Zenica’s emissions also decreased, but they were caused by the drop in production linked to the economic crisis global; the citizens of Zenica are still waiting for modernization.
Some of the biggest polluters still hide their environmental footprint, such as the Kakanj coal-fired power plant. While in the EU, coal-fired power plants report emissions of around 15 pollutants, Bosnian power plants – like the Gacko coal-fired power plant – publish data on only 3 to 5 basic chemicals. For example, information on releases of heavy metals, which represent serious threats to human health, is totally lacking.
Analysis of the Arnika and Eko Zenica forum shows that the data submitted by industrial companies is unreliable and contains a huge amount of errors – almost 90% of the data is irrelevant. In addition, the entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina operate different systems using different methodologies.
“Although Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the PRTR (5) protocol in 2003, parliaments have not ratified it until today. Thus, the system is not compulsory for industries. Transparency of pollution data is a key step on the road to cleaner air. Without access to information, state authorities cannot act. The public and the media are not in a position to control the situation, and polluters can continue to do business as usual to the detriment of the environment and public health, ”said Martin Skalsky, participation expert of the public in Arnika.
For comparison, in Czechia 1,334 installations reported emissions in 2018 and the reports included 35 pollutants in the air and others in soil, sewage and waste, while in the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina Herzegovina there were only 19 air polluting substances (6) and in the Republic of Srpska only 6 chemicals. The situation is not improving and the number of reported substances is basically the same today as in 2011.
(3) 2018 is the year for which the latest data are available in the relevant ministries of FB-H and RS.
(4) Two authorities are responsible for data collection, as the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided by the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 into two entities: the Republika Srpska and a Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in 1999 an autonomous administrative unit Brčko district was formed.
Register with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Federal Ministry for the Environment and Tourism). Register with the Republic of Srpska (Hydrometeorological Institute of the Republika Srpska).
(5) A mandatory information tool for signatories to the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the UNECE Aarhus Convention on Environmental Democracy, signed by Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2003. However, the country has only ratified the PRTR protocol to date.
(6) Arsen, cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead, zinc, ammonium, methane, HCL, HF, PAH, PCDD / F, NMVOC, CO, CO2, SO2 / SOx, NO2 / NOx, PM10. Learn more about chemicals and their impact on human health.