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Cross-border air pollution in Slavonski Brod, Croatia


In 2007, the old oil refinery in the Bosnian city Bosanski Brod (the Republic of Srpska) has been sold to the Russian company Zarubezhneft. The new owner put into operation the old processing line of crude oil with the capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year. Hundreds of citizens of Bosanski brod have been employed by the company.

Since 2010 constant exceeding levels of air pollutant emissions have been measured in Slavonski Brod, a Croatian city located on the other side of the river Sava. The air pollution includes high concentration of sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ozone and particulate matter (PM 2.5). Slavonski Brod was ranked by the Environmental Protection Agency as the city with the worst air quality in Croatia in 2013.

The frequent occurrence of high air pollution provoked strong reaction of citizens of Slavonski Brod as well as the local and national authorities, which organised several protests in their city and in Zagreb - the capital.

In April 2013, the Republic of Srpska authorities denied the accusations claiming that the refinery counts with all environmental permits. The citizen of Bosanski Brod keep quite on the issue as the refinery is one of the main employers in the area.

In September 2013, the Croatia’s Minister of Environment and deputy CEO of Zarubezhneft held a meeting in Zagreb to discuss possible solution to the cross boarder air pollution, when the Croatian authorities proposed modernization of the refinery.

However, by the second half of 2014 the air quality in the city has not been improved, bursting in further citizens protests. In September 2014, the Croatian Ministry of Environment formed the specialized body for monitoring of air quality improvement in Slavonski Brod and keep citizens regularly informed on the authorities activities related to this problem.

The government of Croatia plan to file a lawsuit for cross border pollution to the European Commission against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Zarubezneft. In 2015 and 2016 the pollution has continued at the alarming level, while the citizens did not stop protesting. In April 2016, the governments of Croatia and B&H signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of environmental protection and sustainable development. The results of this cooperation are still to be seen. However, most likely the pollution problem will be solved only once Bosnia and Herzegovina ratified the EU Treaty of Accession, as currently it is not obliged to comply with the EU regulations. At present, the economic measures could be applied, such as preventing the refinery access to Croatian market and infrastructure. Namely, Croatian oil company JANAF is a main supplier of the refinery. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Cross-border air pollution in Slavonski Brod, Croatia
State or province:Brod-Posavina County
(municipality or city/town)Slavonski Brod, Bosanski Brod
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Crude oil

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

The refinery processing line has a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year.

The refinery produces motor fuels, diesel fuels, bitumen, liquid oil gas, heating oil and sulfur.

JANAF has signed contract with the refinery in Bosanski Brod on supply of 1.000.000 tons of oil in 2016.

Level of Investment:930,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:60,000
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:“Oil Refinery” j.s.c. Brod from Bosnia and Herzegovina - The polluter
Zarubezhneft from Russian Federation - The majority owner of the oil refinery in Bosanski Brod
JANAF -Jadranski Naftovod (JANAF) from Croatia - Supplies oil to the refinery in Bosanski Brod
Relevant government actors:The Government of the Republic of Croatia; The Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection; The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia; The City of Slavonski Brod; The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines of the Republic of Srpska; The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Citizens initiative ’’Kad ako ne sad. Brođani, ne dajte da nas truju’’; GRAĐANSKA INICIJATIVA ZA ČISTI ZRAK Slavonski Brod; Ecological associations "Eko Integral"; International association "Bikers of Europe"; Association of cyclists from Slavonski Brod; Music band "Brkovi"

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
International bikers organisation, local musicians
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Other Environmental impactsThe air pollution from the refinery includes high concentration of hydrogen sulfide 42 µg/m3 (limit value 7 µg/m3), sulphur dioxide 500 µg/m3 (350 µg/m3), benzene 16,2 µg/m3 (5 µg/m3), and PM 2.5 93,1 µg/m3 (25 µg/m3).
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impacts

Respiratory diseases; particular impact on the health of children and elderly.

There is no reference on particular diseases provoked by the refinery pollution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:The Croatian government and the citizens of Slavonski Brod demanded modernization of the refinery and installing of the air filters. As this did not happen the Croatian authorities decided to inform the European Commission on the case. As Bosnia and Herzegovina is not obliged to comply with EU regulations, the Croatian government might apply the economic measures such as preventing the refinery access to the Croatian market and infrastructure, which would further aggravate its difficult financial situation.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The modernization of the refinery occurs at slow pace and the alarmingly high pollution continues.

Sources and Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Unatoč kiši, nastavila se borba za čišći zrak

Desetak sati Brođani bili izloženi visokim koncentracijama štetnih plinova

Osnovano Povjerenstvo za praćenje poboljšanja kvalitete zraka

Hrvatska tuži RS i rafineriju nafte u Brodu zbog ekocida

Bosnia Urged To Cut Pollution From Refinery


U Slavonskom Brodu opet prosvjed zbog onečišćenja

Uzbuna u Slavonskom Brodu: Truju nas. Gušimo se. Spasite nam živote!

Brođani prosvjedovali protiv sporog rješavanja zagađenja

Problem zraka u Slavonskom Brodu stigao do Europske komisije

Rješenje za problem zagađenosti tek kad BiH ratificira Sporazum o pristupanju

Onečišćenje zraka u Slavonskom Brodu i dalje ključan problem

Dug rafinerije u Brodu duplo veći od kapitala

Dug Rafinerije pet puta veći od kapitala

U Slavonskom Brodu najzagađeniji zrak u EU

Rafinerija Brod glavni krivac za zagađenje Slavonskog Broda?

Optima: Rafinerija u remontu ne moze da zagadjuje Slavonski Brod

Brođani udišu zrak opasan po zdravlje

GOLIĆ: Rafinerija Brod je u remontu i ne zagađuje okolinu

Dobrović: Problem zagađenja zraka u Slavonskom Brodu je složeno pitanje

Brođani zaustavili promet prosvjedujući protiv zagađenja


Brkovi s maskama za čist zrak u Slavonskom Brodu

Sporazum BiH i Hrvatske o zaštiti okoliša

Hrvatski građani žele zatvaranje rafinerije u Bosanskom Brodu

Europski bajkeri u maskama za čistiji zrak u Slavonskom Brodu

U nedjelju 17. travnja tiha šetnja za čist zrak u Slavonskom Brodu

Janaf sklopio ugovore vrijedne 500 milijuna kuna

Ministar Šprlje zaprijetio zatvaranjem dotoka nafte Rafineriji Brod

Slavonski Brod residents protest against air pollution caused by Bosnian oil refinery

Slavonski Brod Fights for Better Air Quality

Biciklijadu posvetili borbi za čist zrak

S mislima na Hrvatsku, Rusi ulažu 760 milijuna eura u Republiku Srpsku

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Protest Brođana zbog zagađenja iz rafinerije

Rafinerija u Bosanskom Brodu stvara međudržavni problem

SBTV - DNEVNIK - Novo zagađenje zraka - 19.08.2015.

Preliminarni rezultati studije DHMZ-a: Rafinerija u Bosanskom zagađuje Slavonski Brod

Slavonski Brod: Koga tužiti za to što udišu najzagađeniji zrak u Europi?

Other documents

Citizens of the Croatian town Slavonski Brod in protest The sign reads: “Let us breathe”

Oil Refinery in Bosanski Brod Everyday scene of air pollution from the refinery

Meta information

Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update17/05/2016



Citizens of the Croatian town Slavonski Brod in protest

The sign reads: “Let us breathe”

Oil Refinery in Bosanski Brod

Everyday scene of air pollution from the refinery