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news 24 Dec 12

Bosnians Protest Against Mittal Plant Pollution

Several thousand citizens from Zenica in central Bosnia protested on Saturday urging the ArcelorMittal steel factory to install filters and cut emissions from the plant.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Zenica

Eko Forum, an association of citizens from Zenica, organized a protest on December 22 over the pollution coming from the ArcelorMittal steel plant.

Several thousand people gathered on the main square in Zenica and staged a peaceful march to the steel plant on Saturday, holding banners demanding an end to the pollution and asking the company to install filters in the plants.

Samir Lemes, of Eko Forum Zenica, told Balkan Insight that the association had asked the company for years to install filters to improve air quality and no other solution remained but to come together and demand their rights.

“We've been writing letters and sending appeals for four years to this company,” Lemes said. “They have the support of the authorities and can 'buy' three politicians, five ministers and four inspectors, but they cannot buy thousands of citizens.”

 

 

Citizens of Zenica in a protest against the pollution from ArcelorMittal steel factory / Photo by Balkan Insight

“They [ArcelorMittal] keep telling us that the issue cannot be solved overnight but we've waited for 3,000 nights and cannot take this anymore,” Lemes said.

ArcelorMittal is a multinational steel production corporation and is among world's largest steel producers, with one factory in Zenica.

    Citizens of Zenica in a protests on Saturday demanding clean air and a decent life / Photo by Balkan Insight


Locals have been complaining for years to the company over the lack of filters and the high amount of pollution, saying it poses a serious risk to the health of the citizens.

Although there has been no expert study into the relationship of the plant's pollution to the health of local people, visitors say can feel the polluted air when they come to the city. It can also be seen that the windows and balconies of the town are constantly covered with black dust, which is not found in other Bosnian towns.

    Samir Lemes of the Eko Forum Zenica, one of the organizers of the peaceful protest in Zenica / Photo by Balkan Insight


“We have no support from the mayor who always says it is not his responsibility,” Lemes said. "We're still fighting something that people elsewhere solved a hundred years ago.”

There has been no official response from the company or from the city authorities but citizens and Eko Forum say they remain committed to assuring themselves a better living environment.

    Citizens of Zenica said the Saturday image of the steel factory was a mild and a "normal" one / Photo by Balkan Insight
 

Some of the Zenica citizens were even wearing gas masks as a demonstration of how much the city is polluted

Photo by Balkan Insight

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