Air pollution from Jugohrom-Jegunovce, Macedonia

Jugohrom Ferroalloys demonstrated little willingness to introduce environmental measures and reduced air pollution, which is why experts and CSOs demanded from the government to temporary close the factory and put more pressures on its management.

Jugohrom Ferroalloys DOO Jegunovce (previously a state owned company Silmak from 1952) is located in the Macedonian village Jegunovce, in the Region of Polog valley, around 10 km from the city of Tetovo. Jugohrom produces ferro-alloy, particularly ferro-silicon and is the main employer in Jegunovce. In 2010, the company was privatized by the Russian company Camelot Group. The company has a history of over 50 years of uncontrolled disposal of waste material containing chromium salts caused soil and groundwater pollution, including the River Vardar, an important trans-boundary river. However the greatest environmental problem is extremely high air pollution. As identified by experts and NGO activists, Jugohrom contributes almost 99% to the total air pollution in the Polog region. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) standards, the concentration of particulate matters PM10 is eight times higher than permitted limits, and more than ten times in the winter, causing respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, cancer and death. The inhabitants of the region are worried about their health and their agricultural production, while Tetovo is declared one of the most polluted towns in Macedonia. The air pollution was confirmed in measurements by The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, however this actor argues that industry is only the third biggest source after transport and heating. Macedonia became a candidate member of the European Union in 2005. Since then, it made some changes in the Law on Environment as part of the EU access environment reforms, including the measure of making polluters meet environmental standards (until the 1st of April 2014), in order to get the integrated environmental permit A. In the case of Jugohrom this requirement included the installation of air filters. During the past nine years Jugohrom has requested several deadline extensions, stating as explanation the effects the economic crisis had on its production. Namely, in 2012 Jugohrom had to close 4 out of 6 furnaces and lay off 400 workers. The Macedonian government has been accepting these excuses, due to the importance of the metallurgy industry to the country’s economy. In the meantime The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning adopted several plans and strategies to reduce the level of air pollution, such as the Third National Plan on Climate Change in December 2013. On the 1st of April 2014, once again Jugohrom did not manage to meet the deadline, however the company was granted with 6 more months to do so (until the 31st of October). In July 2014, Liljana Popovska, a parliamentarian and representative of DOM- The Democratic Renewal Party of Macedonia (a green political party) sent an official criminal charge against Jugohrom to the city of Tetovo's court. This charge was a result of years of unwillingness of Jugohrom's management to introduce environmental measures, even though the investment in filters would take only 1% of its total profit. Mrs Popovska expressed the fear that Jugohrom does not have any intention of changing the situation, and that the company plans to eventually close the factory and leave with the profit. There is no information on the case so far. Even though the Minister of Environment has promised to close down the factory by the 31st of October 2014, Jugohrom has been given yet another deadline prolongation for two more years, as according to the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs the company has already met 21 out of 29 requirements. During the next two years the company will keep working with 50 % of its production capacity that should reduce the emissions of pollution by 60-70%. Closing down is not an option as it would leave 1,250 workers without jobs. Most of the workers have been hired under three-month contracts, while many of them have reported experiencing political pressures and being in fear for their jobs. Over the years NGO EcoGuerilla and citizens of Tetovo have organised many protests against Jugohrom. After the government's decision in November 2014 to grant the further extension, the citizens organised yet another protest emphasizing that they do not want the factory to be closed, but that the government put maximum pressure on the company to install filters and reduce pollution immediately, particularly since Jugohrom have been operating with a profit in last few years. In October 2015, the Ministry of Environment announced closing the factory for not obeying rules. In January 2016, Jugohrom voluntarily shut down operations for two months with aim of decreasing air pollution in Tetovo. NGO Eco Guerrilla said that closing Jugohrom had positive results to air quality in the city. Namely, according to the measurements made by the country's environment ministry, the PM10 emissions in February 2016 decreased by 41% when compared with the levels measured in February 2015. For this reasons, Eco Guerrilla finds unjustified the plant reopening before all environmental standards are met. However, the workers of Jugohrom think differently and state that the air pollution level in Tetovo remain high despite of the plant closure. The factory relaunched production in March 2016. According to Jugohrom management, the installation of de-dusting equipment will be completed until the end of October 2016. 
Basic Data
NameAir pollution from Jugohrom-Jegunovce, Macedonia
CountryMacedonia, FYR
ProvinceThe Region of Polog
SiteMunicipality of Jegunovce and Tearce, city of Tetovo
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Metal refineries
Specific CommoditiesSteel
ferro-silicon, silicon–chrome, low carbon ferro-chrome and technical silicon
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsProduces up to 6 tonnes of ferro-silicon per month.
Project Area (in hectares)2,417
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population300,000
Start Date2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesJugohrom Ferroalloys DOO Jegunovce (Jugohrom ) from Macedonia, FYR - Polluter
Camelot Group from Hong Kong SAR, China - Owner of Jugohrom Ferroalloys DOO Jegunovce since 2010
Relevant government actorsThe Government of Macedonia; The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of the Republic of Macedonia; The Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Macedonia
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEcoGuerilla; The portal;; citizens of Tetovo; DOM- The Democratic Renewal of Macedonia
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
OtherRespiratory infections, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Prolongation of deadline to introduce environmental improvements; reduction of production capacity to 50%; voluntarily two-months closure
Development of AlternativesExperts, citizens and CSOs demanded from the government to temporarily close the factory and put pressure on the company to install filters and reduced pollution. The permanent closing of the factory is not an option as the large number of Jegunovce inhabitants work there.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Since the changes in the Environmental Law from 2005, the management of Jugohrom has not demonstrated willingness to introduce environmental measures. Instead, it has been asking for several deadline prolongations, while keeping the production on-going in order to keep the social peace. After a voluntary two-month closure in 2016, the factory resumed production in March 2016, while the ongoing work on installation of de-dusting equipment should be completed until the end of October 2016.
Sources and Materials

The Law on Environmental Protection 2005
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The Third National Plan on Climate Change in December 2013
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The dangerous pollution of the Pollog region
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Jugohrom Got New Deadline to Replace Filters After All
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Protests as Macedonia's Government Gives a Polluting Factory in Tetovo Another Break
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Дали македонската влада ќе им го скрати животот на нејзините граѓани? Will Macedonian government shorten the life of its citizens?
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Ndotja nuk ndalet, çdo vit 4.500 njerëz të rinj të sëmurë nga kanceri! - Pollution does not stop, each year 4,500 new people suffering from cancer!
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Nothing new about Liljana Popovska's accusations vs Jugohrom
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DOM party: Tetovo and Bitola remain polluted, Skoplje is saved
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DOM party request a meeting with polluters Makstil and Jugohrom
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Macedonia's Jugohrom Ferroalloys halves output to cut gas emissions - govt
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Jugohrom ugasion cetiri peci, 400 ljudi ostalo bez posla
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Macedonia’s Jugohrom Ferroalloys Closes Four Furnaces - Media
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Camelot has bought former Jugohrom plant
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Jugohrom and Masktil to stop operations until meeting environmental standards
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JUGOHROM employees testify party pressures, the Management denies
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Protest in Tetovo: Citizens on the Street, They Want to Breathe Clean Air
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Facebook page EcoGuerilla: STOP ndotjes kancerogjene ne Tetove
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Zagaduvanje na vodite (Water pollution in Macedonia)
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Можно ли е загадување на Рашче со шествалентен хром?
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"Југохром" се уште ги загадува Вардар и Бистрица
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After Closing Jugohrom Plant, Air Pollution in Tetovo Decreased
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Macedonia’s Jugohrom Ferroalloys plant relaunches production - report
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Macedonia: Jugohrom Smelter Will Close for Two Months to Improve Air Quality
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Environment Minister: Jugohrom Fails to Make Progress on Eco-standards, Faces Closure
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Jugohrom shut down, but Pollution still the same in Tetovo
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Media Links

Protest in Tetovo, January 2014
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Protest in Tetovo, December 2013
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Photos of the pollution from Jugohrom
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Protest in Tetovo, March 2014
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Los Angeles Times photography
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Mos Hesht! Video about air pollution in Tetovo made by Cr3w Production and Wilson school students
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Photos from the protests against Jugohrom
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Pollution from Jugohrom Jegunovce
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И без "Југохром" воздухот во Тетово е екстремно загаден
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Other Documents

Tetovo protest Some of the slogans heard by the citizens of Tetovo were “Air for Tetovo" and "Tetovo – Say No to Carcinogenic Air"
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Protest in Tetovo A scene from the protest again Jugohrom
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update23/05/2016