The city of Pančevo-Serbia's black spot, Serbia

Pančevo is known as center of Serbian chemical industry but also an environmental hotspot because of high concentration of air pollutants that makes life unbearable to its citizens.


Description
Pančevo, a town located 20 km from the Serbian capital Belgrade, is known as center of chemical industry. The HIP Azotara (HIP-chemical industry Pančevo) includes a complex of factories for production of ammonia, nitric acid and fertilizers and was constructed in 1959. Azotara is located only 4km from Pančevo's city center and in close proximity to the Vojlovica village. The other two big industries, oil refinery “Rafinerija nafte Pančevo” and the complex of petrochemical factories HIP Petrohemija started operating in 1968 and 1971, respectively. The production in factories was expanding until the beginning of 1990's and economic sanctions to Serbia due to the involvement in war in ex-Yugoslavia. The first protest against industries in Pančevo were organized in the 1980's provoked by one of many episode of severe air pollution, including above the maximum allowable concentration (MAC) of benzene, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide. The pollution in water and soil were also reported. In 1999, NATO bombed the industrial complex causing uncontrolled discharge of oil and chemicals which added on the existing environmental and health problems in Pančevo. In 2004, the UNEP declared Pančevo as an environmental hotspot. Extremely high concentrations of benzene in November 2006 provoked the citizens of Pančevo to organize the event “Poisonous November”, including a series of protests and meetings with the local government. The protest moved to Belgrade, when local newspaper Pančevac organised several thousand citizens and received support by the local government. Unsatisfied with the result of the protests, citizens blocked the roads to the factories for three days. In January 2007, factory workers syndicate of the HIP Petrohemija declared its support to the company against the general public. In 2013, the Ministry of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection canceled continuous air monitoring station in Pančevo, which provoked further dissatisfaction. Currently, the local government of Pančevo is trying to provide the investments to restart monitoring station. In July 2014, the informal citizens' group named “Pančevci protiv zagadjenja”, organized several protest in front of the Pančevo city hall and a flash mob event, inspired by alarm signal for chemical danger. The activists demanded legal punishment for the polluters and establishment of a fund for medical assistance of people suffering from the diseases caused by the pollution. Since 2000, several lawsuits against the companies have been submitted by the Inspectorate of Environmental Protection, all of which are still in the procedure. In the meanwhile the companies created investments plans for substitution of old technologies with pollution abatement technologies. However, the plan was only economically viable in case of the oil refinery, as 51% of the company was bought by the Russian company Gazprom Neft in 2008. The implementation of the water steam treatment technologies in this factory started in July 2014.  Further modernization finished in 2016 included implementation of environmentally safe process of loading the refinery products in tank trucks and of closed drainage system from the production process. The refinery also reduced production of gasoline and increase diesel production. According to the factory management, thanks to this improvements, emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere are within the limits prescribed by European environmental standards. After various years of attempts, the companies HIP Azotara and HIP Petrohemija have not been privatized yet and they are dependent on the state financial help. In 2015 Azotara installed the new line for monitoring of smoke discharge to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides in accordance to the EU legislation. Further investments for modernization of Azotara (from state budget) are planned for 2016. In turn, Petrohemija increased its production in 2015 and function without debts. Due to modernization and increase in production processes, a plan for construction of a new thermal power plant that would supply the factories as well the city of Pančevo with heat and electricity was announced in 2015. 
Basic Data
NameThe city of Pančevo-Serbia's black spot, Serbia
CountrySerbia
SitePančevo
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Chemical industries
Oil and gas refining
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
HIP Azotara produces: CAN 27%N, CAN 25%N, SAN 33%, UREA 46%, UAN, NPK, MAP, Ammonia, Ammonia solution, and distill water.
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Project Area (in hectares)1,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population130,000
Start Date1980
Company Names or State EnterprisesHIP Azotara from Serbia - The polluter
HIP Petrohemija from Serbia - The polluter
NIS Rafinerija nafte Pancevo from Serbia - The polluter
Gazprom Neft Shelf from Russian Federation - Owner of 51% of NIS Rafinerija nafte Pancevo
Relevant government actorsThe Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia; The Inspectorate for Environmental Protection; The Municipality of Pančevo
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEkoloski pokret otpora; Srednjoskolski ekoloski centar; Nedeljnik “Pancevac”; Pancevci protiv zagadjenja https://www.facebook.com/zagadjeninacisto/timeline?ref=page_internal; Zeleni Srbije: http://zelenisrbije.org/
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
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Local journalists, Local high school students
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
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
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Bicycle marathon
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), Food insecurity (crop damage), Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherIn the joint study Serbian and Japanese experts investigated the agricultural land in industrial zone in Pančevo and found the concentration of diphenyl, heavy metals and polycyclic hydrocarbons below the limit prescribed by national regulations, but also certain quantities of DDT whose use is strictly prohibited.
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
OtherRespiratory diseases, cancer, particular impact on kids

A significant increase of in the air pollution occurred in the night of 14 November 2006, when around 70 children asked for a medical help.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement
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
The polluters created investments plans for substitution of old technologies with pollution abatement technologies
Development of AlternativesThe activists demand from factories to decrease the pollution or stop the production. The activists ask for a higher level of engagement from the Serbian Government in solving environmental problems in Pančevo and establishment of independent environmental ministry. They also propose for modification of environmental laws including a more strict control of pollution and fines to the polluters.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The companies made investment plans to install pollution abatement technologies. Some of the planed modernization of the production processes were completed by 2016, mostly in the oil refinery while Azotara and Petrohemija would need further investments in pollution abatement technologies to be provided by new owners. This has resulted in the pollution decrease. However, pollution of drinking water and unexplained detonation in the factories were reported in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In addition, new thermal power plant on gas is planned to be built and the citizens’ initiative demonstrated certain skepticism towards its environmentally-friendly functioning.
Sources and Materials
References

Petrovic, M. and Vukelic, J. (Ed.) 2013 Environmental Protection in Pancevo and Bor: Challenges of participatory approach to environmental governance. Institute for Sociological Research, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade.
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Uspešno završena dodatna modernizacija Rafinerije nafte Pančevo
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Links

Green point
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Otvoreno pismo premijeru
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Apel Ekološkog pokreta otpora Pančeva
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Pančevo, otrovni novembar
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Otrovni oblak nad Pančevom i Beogradom
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Pančevo: Otrovna ruska okupacija
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Mobilna merna stanica u rukama Panceva
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Pancevo protest zelenih I DS
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Pančevo: Dim iz azotare ipak opasan?
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Grad: Azotara da smanji aerozagađenje
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Pancevo je mrtav grad
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Istrazivanje o crnim ekoloskim tackama: Pancevo
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Studija zastita zivotne sredine u Pancevu
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Pančevo zagađeno 120 puta u 2012.
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Rast zagađenja u Pančevu
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Ugrožena kontrola zagađenja vazduha
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U Pančevu ispušten hlor u vazduh
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Vetrozaštitni pojas pod istragom
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Ugljovodonici iznad dozvoljene granice
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Ambulante u Pančevu pune bolesnika
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NIS povećao ulaganja u sanaciju zagađenja
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Tesko se dise
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Nema zagađenja, verujte na reč
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Vazduh čistiji, vode zagađenije
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Zagađenje faktor rizika za kancer
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„Petrohemija“ krivac za zagađenje Pančeva
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Ispituju se uzroci zagađenja
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Borci protiv zagađenja kažnjeni zbog blokade
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Srednjoškolci protestovali zbog zagađenja
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Kamionima krenuli na zagađivače vazduha
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Pančevci protestovali u Beogradu
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Pančevo: Novo postrojenje za prečišćavanje vode
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Pančevo: Građani protiv zagađenja
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UNEP reports (English)
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NIS forms joint venture with Gazprom Energoholding to build power plant in Pancevo
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Završena je modernizacija dijela rafinerije u Pančevu
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Bajatović: Restrukturiranje "Srbijagasa" teče po planu
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Pančevačka Fabrika đubriva čeka strateškog partnera, Azotara među četiri kupca
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Jučerašnje detonacije čule su se iz Petrohemije Pančevo
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Bor, Užice i Smederevo dišu kao na škrge
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Završena investicioni radovi u Rafineriji nafte Pančevo
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NIS gradi termoelektranu u Pančevu
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Voda u Pančevu neispravna za piće i pripremanje hrane
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Ispitivanje zagađenosti životne sredine u Pančevu
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Poljoprivredno zemljište Pančeva zdravo uprkos zagađenju i bombardovanju
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Има наде за „Петрохемију”, МСК, „Азотару”...
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Media Links

U Azotari tvrde da žuti dim nije akcident
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Rast zagadjenja u Pancevu
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Protests in July 2014
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Protests in July 2014 (2)
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Bicycle marathon protest video
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Protest 2006 video
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Flash mob event – Pancevci protiv zagadjenja
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Photos from the protest
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Protest povodom ukidanja mernih stanica
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Pollution in Pancevo:
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Pollution in Pancevo (2)
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Art pollution in Pancevo
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Protests in July 2014
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Protests in July 2014 (2)
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Even the monuments need protection in Pancevo
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TV Pančevo - Plan „južne zone“ na javnom uvidu do 4. jula
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TV Pančevo - Još bez katalizatora protiv narandžastog dima iz Azotare
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Jeftinije đubrivo i čistiji vazduh?
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Investicije u širenje proizvodnje nada za Petrohemiju
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Other Documents

Pancevo is dead town The citizens of Pancevo announced its death
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Scene from the protest in Pancevo The sign reads "Pancevo is Auschwitz"
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Welcome to polluted Pancevo The sign at the entrance to the town of Pancevo
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)gmail.com
Last update02/06/2016
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