Vratsa Landfill Fire, Bulgaria


On the 2nd of May 2012, the local landfill site in Vratsa, Bulgaria caught on fire. The waste stored there was part of Sofias waste and was intended to be burnt in the cement kilns in Beli Izvor vllage near Vratsa. The content of the waste was 90% plastics after its separation in Sofia. As a result the citizens of Vratsa were totally misled by the national and local authorities that there had been no serious cause for alarm and worries. After a study made by Ecoglasnost National Movement it was made clear that a pressing threat to human health existed due to the fire, and adequate measures to protect the citizens should have been taken.

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Basic Data
NameVratsa Landfill Fire, Bulgaria
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific Commodities
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationUrban
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment and Water, RIEW
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEcoglasnost National Movement
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Forms of MobilizationOfficial complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Water and the Regional inspection on environment and water have consistently been saying that despite the fire in the local landfill there is no existing threat to the health of the residents. Several times during the four days of non-ceasing burning, their official position was that the quality of the measured indicators were within allowable standards. The truth however is that they could not have information on the level of furans and dioxins in the air because there is no local or national laboratory which is able to measure them. Over 300 tons of plastic waste burnt at a temperature lower than 1200 degrees C, guaranteeing that a massive quantity of cancerous gases have been emitted to the atmosphere. All of these were inhaled by the unknowing citizens due to the false statements by representatives of the authorities and their intentional concealment of information. This has been the first violation of human health after Act number 7 on the hygiene requirements for health protection of the urban environment was intentionally rescinded by the Minister of Environment and Water with the support of the EUs Commission deputy-head of the DG Regional Policy for Bulgaria. In reaction to this Ecoglasnost National Movement has sent an appeal to the chief prosecutor of the Republic of Bulgaria and to the President of the EU Parliament.
Sources and Materials

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Statement by Ecoglasnost National Movement
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False information on the case spread by the local media

Assessment of Landfill Gas Recovery and Utilization

Meta Information
ContributorEvgenia Tasheva
Last update08/04/2014