Pollution from the Topilnica smelter, Veles, Macedonia

A 30-years-old closed zinc and lead smelting factory -one of the environmental hotspots in Macedonia- will finally stop polluting Veles.


<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns">The 30 years old zinc and lead smelting factory "Topilnica" (MHK – Zletovo – Veles) in the City of Veles is one of the environmental hot spots in Macedonia due to its historical air and soil pollution. Moreover, the factory is located only 1,5 km from the city center. In 2001 the World Health Organization pinpointed Veles as one of the most polluted towns in the world. The factory production line was closed in 2003 after going bankrupt and under public pressure following a large women's march on 8th of March 2003. The remaining slag was disposed on a site close to the smelter. The European Agency for Reconstruction’s study “Development of Remediation Plans with Financial Requirements for Elimination of Industrial Hot Spots - Volume Two” from December 2007, indicates existence of 1,8 Mio Mg of zinc and lead at the disposal site that is only partly covered and therefore the source of air emissions and contaminated leakage in the nearby Vardar River. Moreover, lead, zinc and cadmium are found accumulated in the soil of agricultural land and public areas, as well as in the food produced on this soil. Luckily, due to the low mobility of these heavy metals, most of the pollution remained in the soil and has not contaminated groundwater. The same study indicates the necessity of decontamination of the soil of contaminated public “green” areas as well as agriculture land, the re- and/or decommissioning of the existing facility, and the remediation of the existing slag dump site. The Ministry of Environment confirmed these plans and stressed the need of large investments as the main obstacle to their implementation. In 2006 Metrudhem DOOEL Skopje bought Topilnica. The factory’s assembly of creditors accepted Metrudhem’s bid of USD 2,890,000 to restart the smelting plant. Another bid (50 percent higher than Metrudhem’s) was proposed by the Turkish Company Yalim Dis Ticaret to build a shopping center on the same location. However, the Metrudhem proposal was accepted. This ended up in the lawsuit against the state filed on May 30th 2008 by the Municipality of Veles and several environmental NGOs who created a "Green Coalition". The opponents of reopening Topilnica demanded from the state to remove the risk of the occurrence of future and permanent damages pursuant to article 143 Request to eliminate the risk of damage of The Law on Obligations. On June 10th 2008, local activists, environmentalists, and local self-government organised a big protest in Veles, followed by the second big protest in November 2011 after the court found the state free of charges. Moreover, in a public survey in 2010 organised by Green Coalition in the city of Veles, 93% of the responded were against the factory reopening. The local self-government is trying to find solutions to stop the restarting of the facility. One of their activities was deleting the factory from the Detailed Urban Plan of the City of Veles in April 2014. This was legally possible due to the fact that the factory installation has been closed for more than three years.  Such decision secured the permanent closure of the smelter. However, the problem with pollution originated from the factory slag disposal site remained. In March 2016, Macedonian company Ekocentar 97 won a 10 years long concession over exploitation of the site -host to 1.7 million tons of slag containing 8% of zinc, 1% percent lead, and some cadmium-.   </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Pollution from the Topilnica smelter, Veles, Macedonia</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/macedonia-fyr">Macedonia, FYR</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Veles</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>HIGH local level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Industrial and Utilities conflicts</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites<br /> Metal refineries</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/lead'>Lead</a><br /><a href='/commodity/zinc'>Zinc</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Surface of dumpsite: 33.000 m2. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Amount of slag containing zinc, lead, cadmium (heavy metals) disposed on the site: 1,700,000 tonnes. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>42,745</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>2,890,000 </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>55,108</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>2006</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">End Date</td><td>03/2016</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/metrudhem-dooel-skopje'>Metrudhem DOOEL Skopje <small>(Metrudhem)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/macedonia-fyr'><small>Macedonia, FYR</small></a> - <small>Investor in the smelter reopening</small><br /><a href='/company/ekocentar-97'>Ekocentar 97</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/macedonia-fyr'><small>Macedonia, FYR</small></a> - <small>Holder of a 10 years concession to exploit the smelter slag disposal site</small></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of Macedonia</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Zelena Koalicja-Green Coaliton; Еcological association "Vila Zora" http://www.vilazora.org.mk/</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>Mobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Local ejos<br /> Local government/political parties<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Women<br /> Local scientists/professionals</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Development of alternative proposals<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism<br /> Official complaint letters and petitions<br /> Public campaigns<br /> Street protest/marches</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>The vegetables produced close by the factory site contained five times bigger content of metal cadmium than allowed 0.3 milligrams.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Respiratory diseases and cancers; malformation in newborns</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Lack of competitiveness of local producers and sellers of fruit and vegetable.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Stopped</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area<br /> Court decision (failure for environmental justice)<br /> Application of existing regulations<br /> New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study<br /> Project cancelled<br /> Withdrawal of company/investment<br /> Changes in the Urban Plan of the City of Veles- deleting the factory </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>The local government and activists managed to stop the factory reopening by introducing the changes in the Urban Plan of the City of Veles. They also demanded cleaning up of the slag disposal site. </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Yes</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The factory will not be reopened, while slag disposal site will be cleaned in 2 to 3 years by the company Ekocentar 97. </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> The Law on Obligations<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.legislationline.org/documents/id/15533" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> LAW ON WASTE MANAGEMENT<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.asser.nl/upload/eel-webroot/www/documents/cms_eel_id76_3_Law%20on%20waste%20management.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> THE LAW ON ENVIRONMENT<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://faolex.fao.org/docs/pdf/mac105107.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Soil Protection Activities and Soil Quality Monitoring in South Eastern Europe<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/esdb_archive/eusoils_docs/other/EUR24889.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> ИЗВЕШТАЈ ЗА СТРАТЕГИСКА ОЦЕНА НА ЖИВОТНАТА СРЕДИНА (STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT REPORT)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.veles.gov.mk/downloads/2013/SEA%20Topilnica%20Veles%20%20finalna%2005.02.13_1.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> The Smelter of Veles<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.ecotopiabiketour.net/?p=349&lang=de" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> THE COLUMN on Veles<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.jasonmiko.com/the-columns-dnevnik-21.shtml" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> FYR Macedonia Puts Lead Foot Down on Veles Smelter<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2003/2003-03-25-02.asp" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Macedonians Protest Against 'Killer' Smelter<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/macedonian-town-protests-against-smelter-revival" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Macedonia Town Raises Funds for Lawsuit Against State<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=10168" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Macedonia’s Metrudhem Plans to Invest $150 Mln to Restart Lead/Zinc Smelter<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://wire.seenews.com/news/macedonia-s-metrudhem-plans-to-invest-150-mln-to-restart-lead-zinc-smelter-206774" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Macedonian Govt Offers To Help Relocate Veles-based Lead/Zinc Smelter<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://wire.seenews.com/news/macedonian-govt-offers-to-help-relocate-veles-based-lead-zinc-smelter-209564" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Platform “Green Macedonia”<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.env-net.org/welcome-to-the-new-platform-green-macedonia/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Macedonia: Mobilizing Against Veles Lead Smelting Factory<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/11/09/macedonia-mobilizing-against-veles-lead-smelting-factory/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Анкета велешани и кажаа НЕ на топилница<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://tirekovmirece.com/Novost/%D0%90%D0%BD%D0%BA%D0%B5%D1%82%D0%B0-%D0%B2%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%B5%D1%88%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8-%D0%B8-%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%B6%D0%B0%D0%B0-%D0%9D%D0%95-%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%86%D0%B0" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Environment minister, Metrudhem officials discuss Veles smelting plant<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://vlada.mk/node/1827?language=en-gb" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Еколошки бомби во Македонија: Како Велешката топилница не труе сите<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://emagazin.mk/vesti/vest/11721?title=ekoloshki-bombi-vo-makedonija-kako-veleshkata-topilnica-ne-true-site" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> ЗГУРАТА ОД ВЕЛЕШКАТА ТОПИЛНИЦА СЕ ДАВА ПОД КОНЦЕСИЈА<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.vest.mk/?ItemID=8BBC44E76D15DC43ACD81B68B0A1A00D" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Dodelena koncesija za otstranuvanje na zgurata od teshki metali od veleshkata topilnica<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://bi.mk/dodelena-koncesija-za-otstranuvanje-na-zgurata-od-teshki-metali-od-veleshkata-topilnica/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Велес на прагот да го реши проблемот со загадувањето<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://ohrid24.mk/22108-2/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Еколошки бомби: Згурата на Топилницата во Велес може да се излизга во река<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://emagazin.mk/vesti/vest/11748?title=ekoloshki-bombi-zgurata-na-topilnicata-vo-veles-mozhe-da-se-izlizga-vo-reka" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> A1 Topilnica.wmv<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPbY2cyvuGI" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Topilnica Good Veles Kaput video #1<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InXnVghBT2A" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Veles Makedonia - Topilnica good -Veles Kaput #2<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl3wo65XcAs" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> НЕ за рестарт на Топилницата! СИТЕ НА ПРОТЕСТ<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=926NlQin4mI" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Protesti vo Veles protiv Topilnica (10.06.2008)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6n5Ib4pjz1s" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Protest protiv restartiranje na Topilnica 09.11.2011.mpg<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7lRH7puuuM" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Platen danokot za topilnicata vo Veles!<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lUBBjvRYeM" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> EVROZUM TOPILNICA PRILOG.mpg<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiTRbHaCaJU" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Против рестартирање на топилницата во Велес<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bTZkB1pv74" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Димовски: На Велес повеќе не му треба загадување<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy5YBivCumk" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Smelter Good - Veles Kaput!<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fosim/sets/72157628109412870/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Macedonia: Mobilizing Against Veles Lead Smelting Factory<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/11/09/macedonia-mobilizing-against-veles-lead-smelting-factory/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Троската од Велешката топилница се изнамува за експлоатација<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://kanal5.com.mk/vesti_detail.asp?ID=84483" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p><strong>Protest against Topilnica</strong> Green power (member of Green coalition) against reopening Topilnica<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Campaign_against_the_restar_of_the_smelter_so_called_Topilnica.bmp" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>Protests against Topilnica-Veles</strong> The sign reads: "Topilnica Never More!"<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Protests_in_veles.bmp" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>05/05/2016</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>
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