Croatia owns 50% of the Nuclear Power Plant “Krško” in Slovenia and as such it is obliged to take care of half of the nuclear waste after the NPP stops working in 2043. Slovenia has already build the permanent nuclear waste repository in close proximity to the NPP Krško (locality Vrbina). Croatian government, however, found more economically viable to build the repository within its territory, also because of EU funds directed to local municipalities hosting such object.
Since 1999 the former underground military warehouse in Trgovska gora, located 2,5 km from a town Dvor and 850 m from the river Una, has been registered in the Spatial Plan of the Republic of Croatia as the only potential location for the repository. Trgovska gora is an area of high nature value and it has long tradition in mining and agricultural activities. It is also part of Bania, the poorest and least populated regions in Croatia and predominantly inhabited by the Serbian ethnic minority. From the very beginning the project faced disapproval from local authorities, citizens and NGOs. In 2003, more than 16,000 people signed petition against the repository. However, that was not sufficient resolve the conflicts, and the issue was reopened in 2007 and most recently in 2013 after Croatia joined the EU and accepted to respect its norms for radioactive waste disposal. In February 2015, the citizens of Dvor reported large number of cargo trucks bringing unknown load to the selected location. In April 2015, the Council of the Municipality of Dvor brought unanimous decision to say NO to the repository, as well as have communicated their views on the issue with the national government of Croatia.
Given that the Una River forms the natural border among Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, more precisely the Republica Srpska (RS) - Serbian entity, the storage would also affect the closest Bosnian city Novi Grad (only 2km from the location). In addition, river Una has been declared as National Park in B&H and it is protected under Natura 2000 network. When the municipal authorities, the RS minister of ecology, scientists, citizens and activists public in Bosnia learnt about the repository they organised petitions, protests, and public discussions. They criticise the strategic study which does not take account for 230,000 people that live at the Bosnian side of the river Una Basin. They pointed out that Croatia violated the ESPOO convention under which the repository should be placed at least 20 km from the international boundaries. The National Assembly of RS adopted “Declaration against the construction of nuclear waste disposal site” and received support by Parliament of the Federation B&H. Bosnian authorities also reported the case to the European Commission and ESPOO convention signatories.
In March 2016, Croatian and Bosnian opponents organised joint protests and public hearings in the Croatian capital, Zagreb and in the town of Dvor. The opponents explained that Trgovska gora is not an adequate area for such object given the high seismic activity, risk of floods, porous rocks, and the fact that it contains important water resources. They suggested that the government of Croatia should invest in building new tanks at the locality Vrbina, Slovenia, and criticised the idea of potential economic benefits for the local people for hosting such repositories at the expense of the local development based on the ecological agriculture and tourism. This case has ethnic dimension as well. In March 2016, representatives of local Serbs sent a letter demanding from Croatian government to find another location, otherwise this would be understood as “the final act of the expulsion of the Serbian people from the area and attack to their health and the environment of a large number of citizens of the RS”. They consider that the location was chosen because the authorities expected least resistance from the scarce local population, mainly Serbian returnees after the civil war. New public discussions are planned in both Croatia and Bosnia, while citizens can send their suggestions and critiques on strategic study and “National program for radioactive waste disposal” to the State Office for Nuclear Safety and the Municipality of Dvor until the 6th of May 2016. Croatia should make final decision on the issue in 2016.