Pollution from Nikšić Steel Factory , Montenegro

The fourth attempt of privatization of the Nikšić Steel Factory resulted in technological improvements and pollution reduction, which was welcomed by the citizens. However, the few remaining factory workers are dissatisfied with poor working conditions.


Description
During the fifty-year production, the Nikšić Steel Factory, a public-owned enterprise, produced in total 7,568,577 tonnes of crude steel. Since 1992, the factory has been unsuccessfully privatized three times. Experts say that iron in the Nikšić Steel Factory is produced without any environmental protection mechanisms, such as filters on the smoke stacks. Accordingly, the air in Nikšić is characterized as one of the most polluted in Europe. As confirmed in UN environmental reports and by the Center for Ecotoxicological Research (CETI), besides high levels of total airborne particles and dust, the factory generated 2 million tonnes of waste (stored on the factory’s landfill), as well as discharged waste-water in neighboring rivers and streams without pre-treatment. The residents of Nikšić have been for years protesting and signing petitions to close the factory. Even though, the factory management promised to install filters various times, this has never happened. The most probable reason was that paying the low penalties for polluting were more cost-effective to the factory than investing in an environmental protection system. In 2007, old military tanks were melted down in the steel factory in Nikšic and the money eared from selling the steel was used to provided finance for reducing surplus of ammunition in Montenegro. In 2008, after years of appealing to the authorities, seven families from Rubeža, the Steel Factory nearest settlement, sued the state and the municipality of Nikšić, for putting their lives are at risk due to high amount of air and water pollution coming from the factory. In 2010, as a part of the requirements for obtaining the operation permit, the factory published the “EIA Report of modernization and reconstruction of Nikšić Steel Factory AD” containing plans to install new furnaces with dust removal and water treatment. However, the NGOs criticized the report for not respecting the Law on EIA, and for choosing equipment that does not meet the latest environmental standards. Finally, the factory was declared bankrupt in 2011, this followed its “segmentation” and sale to various foreign investors in the 1990s and 2000s in an attempt to save it. In 2012, Toscelik, a member of TOSYALI GROUP, and one of the leading steel producers in Turkey, bought the Zeljezara Niksic Company for the amount of around 20 million USD. The new owner invested in dust separator and has announced plans to open new working places, increase the production, and further invest in environmental protection. Citizens of Nikšić welcomed technological improvements that were made so far as they resulted in reduced pollution. However, the new owners is struggling with employees dissatisfaction with firings, low salaries, and poor working conditions including overtime and lack of safety measures.  
Basic Data
NamePollution from Nikšić Steel Factory , Montenegro
CountryMontenegro
SiteRubeža, Nikšić, Vir, Gvozdenica
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
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsNew owner Toscelik plans to increase the number of employees from the current 308 to 550 and to increase the production of 120 to 400,000 tonnes . The workers earn 250 euros per month.
Project Area (in hectares)200,000
Level of Investment (in USD)20,000,000 + 45,000,000 of planned investments
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population70,000
Start Date2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesJU “Center for Ecotoxicological Research” d.o.o. (CETI) from Montenegro
Toscelik Niksic from Turkey - Member of TOSYALI GROUP and new owner of Niksic Steel Factory
JU Institute for Development and Research in the field of occupational safety and Podgorica - Department of Ecology from Montenegro - Author of "Report on EIA of modernization and reconstruction"
Relevant government actorsThe Environmental Protection Agency of Montenegro, The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNGOs "PD Unlimited"; "Association for Sustainable Development of the Piva"; "Regional Development - Center"; "Scene"; "Bicycle Club Perun"; "Speleological Society Niksic" and the Ecological Society "Vidrovan"; Environmental movement “OZON”; NGO Ekoskop; NGO Fors
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
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Strikes
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, 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: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts, Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
OtherRespiratory diseases and cancer.

High levels of total airborne particles and dust of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), while the waste from the production process disposed on the factory’s landfill contains high concentrations of carcinogenic substances of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (according to CETI).
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Violations of human rights
OtherFirings, poor working conditions
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (undecided)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of AlternativesLocal residents and activist demanded stopping air pollution by installing proper environmental protection system, as well as the construction of a municipal waste water system to address existing water contamination.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Until now the factory has installed a dust separator that was accepted well by the citizens. However, it is now facing social problems with current and ex-e

employees.
Sources and Materials
References

Reorganisation Plan for Željezara Nikšić a.d. Nikšić (in bankruptcy)
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IZVJEŠTAJ o ocjeni Elaborata procjene uticaja na životnu sredinu
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Links

Željezara – Procjena uticaja na životnu sredinu
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TOŠČELIK INVESTICIJE
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Tridesetak radnika Željezare protestovalo zbog iznenadnih otkaza
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Željezarci počinju štrajk, ali spremni za dogovor
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Pluća grada puna otrova
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Ekonomija 2012: Željezara sada nije problem Vlade
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VELIKA OČEKIVANJA
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Crna tačka u oblacima dima
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Radnici Željezare najavili protest: Toščelik neće 30-40 radnika?
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Nikšić – Na jučerašnjem protestu bilo mnogo više ljudi nego prošlog petka – Željezara dnevno na građane izruči 24 tone industrijskog otpada
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Toscelik acquires bankrupt Montenegrin steel mill Zeljezara Niksic
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Montenegro Steel Workers Strike Over Low Pay
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Toscelik To Invest 35 Mln Euro in Montenegro’s Zeljezara Niksic - Govt
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Bivši sindikalci Željezare traže okončanje suđenja
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Turkish steel mill Toscelik invests 6.0 mln euro in Montenegrin unit - media
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Rally in 2010 by workers of the former Niksic Steelworks
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Montenegro seeks fruits of statehood
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URA: Radnici Željezare bez adekvatne opreme utovaraju kancerogeni otpad (Video)
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Nikšićka željezara: Brine li iko o radnicima?
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Inspekcija da utvrdi da li Željezara truje grad
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Media Links

Zeljezara Niksic (factory of steel)
[click to view]

Zeljezara Strajk Niksic 2009
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željezara nk - protest turska ambasada pg
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Niksic ZELJEZARA 2 DECEMBAR.mp4
[click to view]

Other Documents

Airpollution from the Niksic Steel Factory Black smoke from the factory is endangering the local population of Nikšić due to lack of appropriate equipment for the treatment of toxic emissions
[click to view]

Protest of employees in front of the Niksic Steel Factory The employees of the Niksic Steel Factory are unsatisfied with working conditions under the new owner Toscelik
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com
Last update28/05/2016
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