Last update:
2020-03-12

Illegal Waste Dumps in Pezinok, Slovak Republic

Citizens of Pezinok, which already had an illegal and polluting waste dump , were outraged at a proposal for a new landfill. In 2013, both landfills were declared illegal in a landmark victory led by Zuzana Čaputová.


Description:

Pezinok is a town in western Slovakia famous for its vineyards, which play a key role in the local economy. Soil pollution began affecting wine farmers, however, starting from the 1960s [1]. Part of a trend of neighboring countries illegally dumping waste nationwide for a cheap price, Pezinok’s first illegal, unregulated dump, or rather a ditch without any drainage, ventilation, or containment capacity, was dug only 150 meters from residential areas [1, 4]. Nicknamed “the old landfill,” it held more than 1,000,000 cubic meters of garbage that leaked into groundwater [15]. These residents consequently developed  icreasing rates of cancer, respiratory diseases, allergies, and leukemia allegedly at more than 80 times the national average [1, 4]. The landfill stored toxic wastes from places such as foreign chemical factories and hospitals [4]. Authorities also once found over 300,000 liters of used oil shipped to Pezinok on two lorries from Austria and the Czech Republic [6]. In 1996, the old landfill was privatised by CEO of waste company Ekologická Skládka Ján Man Senior, an important sponsor for the SMER political party and various associated politicians, through whom he could get fake permits. He let the Pezinok brickworks factory begin dumping more of its waste there, increasing the dump’s capacity to 65,000 tonnes annually [15].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Illegal Waste Dumps in Pezinok, Slovak Republic
Country:Slovak Republic
State or province:Bratislava
Location of conflict:Pezinok
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local 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
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The first building stage of the new landfill was planned to be the equivalent of the size of 12 soccer fields (~7 ha), depth of a 5 floor apartment building, and capacity of 700,000 tons [15].

Project area:7
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:07/05/1996
End of the conflict:20/08/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Ekologická Skládka
Relevant government actors:Slovak Environment Inspectorate (IZP)
Slovakian Supreme Court
European Union Court of Justice
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Via Iuris
Greenpeace Slovakia
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-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
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Zuzana Čaputová was the leader of this struggle, she got the Goldman Prize. A politician, lawyer, and environmental activist she has been President of Slovakia since 15 June 2019. Both landfills are now shut down.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[15] Justice and Environment. Pezinok case (2013)
[click to view]

[13] The Slovak Spectator. Protestors still fired up over Pezinok waste dump (Lesna 2008)
[click to view]

[14] Earth Island Journal. Wielding the Law to Safeguard the Land (Loftus-Farren 2016)
[click to view]

[3] The Guardian. Zuzana Čaputová, the spiritual liberal who beat Slovakia’s populists (Walker 2019)
[click to view]

[4] Goldman Prize. Q&A with Zuzana Čaputová (2016)
[click to view]

[5]Via Iuris. Zuzana Čaputová Receives Today the Prestigious Goldman Prize (2016)
[click to view]

[6] Radio Prague Int. CZECH WASTE ILLEGALLY DUMPED IN SLOVAKIA (Lazarova 2007)
[click to view]

[7] Radio Slovakia International. New Slovak president Zuzana Čaputová takes office on Saturday (2019)
[click to view]

[8] The Daily. Pezinok ‘stops the rot’ (2010)
[click to view]

[9] Vyvlastnenie. Fishy smell lingers over Pezinok waste dump (Lesna 2008)
[click to view]

[10] Inter-environment Bruxelles. How one woman galvanized a community to fight the landfills plaguing her town (2016)
[click to view]

[11] The Slovak Spectator. The proceeding of the infamous Pezinok waste dump has been suspended (2015)
[click to view]

[12] UNECE. Pezinok dump opponents win case (Lesna 2013)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Dalena Tran, ICTA, [email protected]
Last update12/03/2020
Comments
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