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Roma relocated to an area with electromagnetic radiation, Tvarditsa , Bulgaria

Roma relocated to an area with electromagnetic radiation, in Tvarditsa. The area is also full of domestic waste. There is some local support for the Roma inhabitants, and support also from ROMACT.


Tvarditsa is a mnicipality in Sliven province counting 14,000 inhabitants (2011) 15 per cent of them are Roma. In the early 70' the public authorities relocated Roma families living around the Tvarditsa to an area located at the outskirts of the town, in proximity to the municipal cemetery. This measure led to the establishment of Iztok neighbourhood, a segregated settlement with exclusively Roma population [1]. The entire place was already surrounded by high voltage electricity pylons, causing electromagnetic radiation that may increase the risk of cancer and other health problems - many studies have shown so far [2][3][4]. In some cases pylons are in a few meters far from the Romani houses increasing the risk of leukemia for the children [4][7]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Roma relocated to an area with electromagnetic radiation, Tvarditsa , Bulgaria
State or province:Sliven
Location of conflict:Tvarditsa
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Electricity
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The health impact of high electricity pylons, waste management and poor garbage collection on Roma living in Iztok neighborhood has never been studied. However, general studies regarding the consequences of electromagnetic radiation have shown a link between such installations and the risk of cancer and other health problems [4] [5].

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Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:2000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1973
Relevant government actors:Municipality of Tvarditsa, Regional Health inspectorate of Sliven, The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Regional development.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:ROMACT T.C.C. Council of Europe and EU (Transnational Cooperation and Capacity Building)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Advocacy; creation of an informal local initiative committee
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Waste overflow, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Noise pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Fires
Other Environmental impactselectromagnetic radiation on people and animals.
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths
Other Health impactsepidemics due to the poor hygiene conditions and waste management
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Land dispossession, Increase in violence and crime
Other socio-economic impactsEthnic segregation, stigma, rejection and discrimination due to the living conditions in the Roma neighbourhood.
The poor infrastructure makes the Roma neighbourhood less attractive for investment or building projects and maintains it as an under-developed area.
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Raising awareness about poor living conditions and unhealthy environment
Proposal and development of alternatives:Every year the municipality organises a one-day initiative for cleaning the town, involving the citizens of Tvarditsa. Roma are mobilized for cleaning their neighbourhood and they are provided by the municipality with plastic bags for collecting the garbage. However, they do not receive any protective masks or gloves and once again they are exposed to health hazards.
Also, the local authorities removed the biggest unregulated dump from the Roma settlement, but have not taken any measures for collecting refuse more frequently or providing additional dumpsters and garbage cans in public space.
Moreover the local authorities have a cleaning team formed by exclusively Romani workers, mainly women, employed by the municipality to clean the streets in non-Roma living area, while Romani families face waste overflow in their living place.
There is no projects for limiting the electromagnetic radiation or prevent health risks among the Romani inhabitants.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Roma settlement in Tvarditsa remains an under-developed area with high level of air, noise and soil pollution. The infrastructure is poorer compared to non-Roma neighbourhoods and the health hazards are higher than in a non-segregated settlements in the town. The electromagnetic radiation issue has never been addressed despite the fact that the municipality has an expert on environmental issues. The high voltage electricity pylons are still in the Roma settlement in 2019 and the authorities do not plan to remove them as they are part of the power grid. The solution can be to relocated the Romani inhabitants to a safer place. Nevertheless such an action exposes the families to the risk of forced evictions without alternative solutions for housing - several examples have shown so far.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

2. Substantion health risks,
[click to view]

1. Council of Europe, Romact program
[click to view]

3. EMF Pollution from Living Near Power Lines
[click to view]

Potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields, EC 2015
[click to view]

World Health organisation
[click to view]

4.Childhood cancer and magnetic fields from high-voltage power lines in England and Wales: a case-control study, Oxford university, 2010
[click to view]

5. Potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields, EC 2015
[click to view]

6. World Health organisation
[click to view]

Childhood cancer and magnetic fields from high-voltage power lines in England and Wales: a case-control study, Oxford university, 2010
[click to view]

7. Pylons and leukemia, BBC, 3 June 2005
[click to view]

Pylons and leukemia, BBC, 3 June 2005
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Radost Zaharieva, consultant for EEB
Last update28/09/2019
Conflict ID:4368
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