Pollution from oil refinery in Sisak, Croatia

Over the years, the local people appeals against the pollution from the refinery of Sisak was replaced by the workers protests protecting their jobs and the future of the state-owned Oil Company INA - crucial for Croatian economy.

Oil refinery Sisak, runned by the state owned Oil Company INA, is located 50 km to the south of Croatian capital Zagreb. The refinery processes domestic and imported raw materials supplied through the Adriatic oil pipeline. In February 2007, the municipal government of Sisak sued the refinery, requiring compensation 1.8 million USD, for emitting air pollution putting under the risk the health of the local population, as well as lowering the market value of the 200 municipality apartments. The local authority’s action had been supported by citizens and civil organisation, such as the Association of Cancer Patients of Sisak, which organised protest as well as filed the lawsuit against the government -owner of the mayor share of the refinery. In January 2012, the municipal government lawsuit against INA was rejected. The City of Sisak could not appeal the decision due to the lack of finances. The same happened with the lawsuit filed by the Association, as it did not count with the sufficient money to pay costs of a scientific study that would demonstrate relationship between cancer diseases occurrence and pollution from the refinery. In September 2014, there was speculation in media that Hungarian Company MOL, one of the owners of INA, planned to sell the refinery to Russian investors that would result in its closure, due to the high operational cost and low national and regional demand for oil products. However, the Croatian partner claimed that the financial losses were caused by the fact that MOL did not modernize the refinery as it was planned. Around 800 workers of the refinery are strongly opposing the refinery closure. The refinery started working again in December 2014 after few months of deadlock and regular outage.  In 2015 the refinery was working with lower capacity, while 72 people were fired which provoked workers protests supported by the mayor of Sisak. The case on management rights in INA led to the international arbitration at the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) between the Croatia and Hungarian MOL. According to information from May 2016, the Croatian government will step out of the arbitration due to large compensation costs in case of losing the case, and instead promotes reaching a political agreement with MOL. The workers continue their fight for INA as one of the crucial companies for Croatian economy. 
Basic Data
NamePollution from oil refinery in Sisak, Croatia
ProvinceSisak-Moslavina County
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas refining
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAnnual capacity of the refinery: 2.2 million tons
Project Area (in hectares)100
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population10,000
Start Date05/02/2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesINA-Industrija Nafte d.d. (INA) from Croatia - The polluter
Hungarian oil and gas company MOL (MOL) from Hungary - The largest shareholder of INA
Relevant government actorsCroatian Government; The Municipality of Sisak; The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Croatia; The Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection of the Republic of Croatia
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociation of Cancer Patients of Sisak; Sisacka eko akcija http://www.sea.hr; Sisak municipal government http://www.sisak.hr; STOŽER ZA OBRANU RAFINERIJE NAFTE SISAK I OČUVANJE RADNIH MJESTA http://stozer-rns.weebly.com/
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 MobilizingIndustrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Fires, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases, Accidents, Other Health impacts
OtherBreast cancer in women and lung cancer in men

Miscarriage and sterility

According to health study from 2007, it is impossible to single out the pollution from refinery from other pollution sources in Sisak.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Closure of refinery; Internatinal arbitration
Development of AlternativesThe local authority required 1.8 million USD for compensation from the Croatian state, while the Association of Cancer Patients of Sisak sued the refinery for endangering public health. One of the mayor owners of the refinery, Hungarian company MOL, announced possible closure of the refinery. The refinery workers oppose this decision and demand from the government to protect their rights, modernize the refinery, and increase production and the number of employees.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.In January 2012 a court reject the municipal government suit against INA, while the City of Sisak did not have money to appeal the decision, similarly the lawsuit by the Association of Cancer Patients of Sisak faced high cost of conducting a health impact study. The refinery has not been modernized but instead there are plans to close it and transfer production in Hungary in order to take over the oil products market of the oil products market of South-East Europe.
Sources and Materials

Robert Uberman and Saša Žiković, 2014. OWNERSHIP OF REFINERY BUSINESS IN CROATIA AND POLAND AS A FACTOR IMPACTING NATIONAL ENERGY SECURITY, Journal of Security and Sustainability Issues, 2014 Volume 4(2): 101–121
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Croatian oil company sued for endangering public health
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PREVELIKO ZAGAĐENJE Propala tužba Siska protiv INE
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Grad Sisak odustaje od tužbe protiv INE zbog zagađenja
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Biti ili ne biti sisačke rafinerije
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MOL: Ne postoji čarobni štapić koji bi spasio rafineriju Sisak
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Various links on the case of refinary Sisak
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Pejnović u Pressingu: U INA-i su počinjena dva "zločina"
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Zašto Washington sprečava kupnju dionica INE od strane ruskog Gazproma?
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Various links in Press Report
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Arbitraža oko Ine nacionalni je interes iza kojega moramo svi stati
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Predsjednik Radničkog vijeća Ine Predrag Sekulić javno pita svog šefa Aldotta: Uništavate li našu kompaniju namjerno?!
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HDZ za povlačenje iz arbitraže i politički dogovor s MOL-om
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'Mol se mora ponašati u maniri dobrog vlasnika, a ne suprotno interesima države, INA-e i Siska'
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Članovi Stožera za obranu rafinerije Sisak u Uredu Predsjednice
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Darko Horvat: Tko će platiti troškove ako hrvatska strana izgubi arbitražu oko Ine?
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Stožer za obranu sisačke Rafinerije: Povlačenje iz arbitraže oko Ine izdaja je nacionalnih interesa
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Stožer za obranu Rafinerije Sisak: Otpuštanjem 72 radnika Rafinerija se zatvara na mala vrata
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Ina provodi organizacijske promjene u sisačkoj Rafineriji radi poboljšanja poslovanja
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Ništa neće biti dok radnici ne zauzmu rafineriju
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Media Links

Protest protiv zatvaranja sisačke Rafinerije
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Spontani prosvjed zbog 72 otkaza u Rafineriji nafte Sisak, radnici prozvali i političare
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Vlast uvjerava: Sisak ne ostaje bez rafinerije!
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Other Documents

Rafinery in Sisak The pollution from the refinery in Sisak
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Workers protest against the refinery closure Refinery in Sisak could be closed in 2015 leaving around 800 workers without job
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com
Last update25/05/2016