Environmentalists: Pollution in Bratislava nears ecological disaster

They point to a report that had been kept out of the public's eye for a decade. Environment minister pledges to work on new legislation.

Erik BalážErik Baláž (Source: SITA)

The environmental pollution in the compound of the Istrochem company in Bratislava is close to an ecological disaster, said environmentalist and vice-chairman of the non-parliamentary Spolu party Erik Baláž at a press conference.

There have been rumours about contamination in the area, but no official statement existed until recently. On June 3, 2020 a report on geological research conducted a decade ago has shown the situation was alarming then. The contamination happened during the production of pesticides, fertilisers, explosives and sulphuric acid at the compound.

Contamination of the ground water

Tamara Stohlová, Spolu party expert on the environment, said that there was contamination of the ground water in the compound and substances like benzene, atrazine and lead, dangerous to human health, were found there. She added that the water, soil and air were all polluted in the compound.

“The geological research conducted into this issue is more than ten years old,” said Baláž, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “However, it was a secret document and was only declassified on June 3.”

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Stohlová said that the document shows the extent of the pollution is vaster than anyone expected. She called the situation an ecological disaster.

“The bad odour could be smelled in several localities, it was hard to stand,” she said, as quoted by SITA.

Baláž noted that it is a good example of how ignoring environmental protection may lead to various problems.

He called on Environment Minister Ján Budaj to use all human and financial resources and act.

“We will push through a change to the legislation so that in the future such research cannot be classified,” he noted. They will also look at whether this particular case could result in any criminal consequences.

Work on legislation change will start

“I welcome the debate on the topic of the new environmental burden that opened today,” Budaj reacted, as quoted by SITA.

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He said that the burden from Istrochem's production has been registered in the freely-accessible information system since 2009.

There are about 2,000 environmental burdens and thousands of illegal waste dumps. Many of them are being investigated by the police. The costs linked with Istrochem are about €350 million, Budaj said.

He promised that he will start to work on the legislative changes. In its current form the law allows a private company to classify a geological report, even if it threatens the health of people or the environment.

“If it threatens the environment or health, it is absurd that a private citizen could have the option to classify it,” said Budaj, as quoted by SITA.

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