MAC: Mines and Communities

Macedonian Town Sues State for Pollution

Published by MAC on 2008-11-24
Source: Balkan Insight (2008-11-12)

Skopje - Macedonia's central town of Veles is suing the state for allowing 30 years of continuous pollution from the town's lead and zinc smelter that is situated right next to residential areas.

The first hearing in this unprecedented case in Macedonia started on Wednesday in a Veles district court.

Veles's municipality lawyer, Slavko Petrov told media that the town demands damages for the pollution caused by the smelter, as well as guarantees that the smelter will remain closed.

The presence of the smelter has been controversial for years. Non-governmental organisations have issued repeated warnings about the higher-than-average number of cancers, fetal deformities, and other diseases which they claim are a direct consequence of the factory's toxic emissions.

The state has so far not acknowledged this. The public attorney representing the state Evdokija Zarkova argued that the law suit is not precise because it does not contain a specific state institution that is being sued.

The smelter is not currently working due to financial issues. That state has unsuccessfully tried to sell the smelter several times in the past.

Another hearing is scheduled for the next month.

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