'A modern day journey through the wild western Balkans'

Thursday, March 09, 2006

PCB Encounters

Today i was asked to give an interview for a NTV Hayat. What they wanted was my opinion -- not because i'm an expert, but simply because i have this thing about injustice...and i've never quite learned to keep my big mouth shut. So when the shit hits the proverbial fan...i feel some strange moral duty to tell everyone about it. That's probably why i am being sued for slander. St. Paddy's day is just a week away, i can hardly wait.

So what balkan adventure is this about today you ask? It goes a little something like this. About two weeks ago there was a massive leak from a hydroelectric transformer in the Jablanica HE plant. Jablanica HE is located on the Neretva River, the famous turquoise coloured waterway that flows under the Old Bridge in Mostar. It turns out that 18 tonnes of gookety gook made its way into the majestic waters that feed the crystal clear Adriatic Sea just a mere 35 kilometres away. In fine Bosnian fashion -- we had no way to react to the ecological catastrophe that could in essence destroy this waterway and the Delta in Croatia. We have no rapid reaction force, we have no equipment to respond to such spills, we have no contingency plans. We basically just say, 'jebi ga, sta mi mozemo.' In layman's terms, 'fuck it, what can we do?'

Luckily someone had the sense to call Croatia, who immediately sent a clean-up team to try and contain the spill. And after several days, rumours had it that they had managed to do so. Then more rumours started to circulate and some started talking. Talking about what no one but ecologists and environmentalists talk about in private over 'what if' coffee sessions. We had no way of proving our suspicions and certainly no ears to listen to our concerns. Well, it seems like the what if has been confirmed.

The European Union banned the use of PCB for use in electric transformers in the mid eighties. By the mid nineties that had prohibited its use and shortly after eliminated from use in Europe. They also passed a treaty making it illegal to transport or sell it to non-EU countries. The French, famous for their sales and dumping of hazardous waste onto third world countries apparently sold a large shipment of transformer oil made with PCB to BiH in the late 1990's. Elektroprivreda BiH, the Bosnian electric company, denies this. PCB has been found in the transformer oil and the director of this ambitious Enron like company made a public statement that PCB is legal in Europe until 2010. Rubbish -- its first ban came in 1978 and total prohibition was implemented by 1999.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, of course, has no capacity of its own to verify the quantity of PCB in the leaked oil. PCB, by the way, is extremely cancerogenic and is extremely fluid, henceforth harder to contain in the event of a spill. The Neretva is the source of drinking water for, say, 250,000 people. Its also home to a large number of fish farms that sell fresh trout to numerous European neighbours. The electric company, quite possibly the strongest lobby in the country and completely immune to Bosnian law and regulations has outright denied the use of PCB's...and has now backtracked to say that there was only small quantities found.

Funny enough, this same director went to Slovenia today to sign a concession agreement for 23 mini-dams to be built on Bosnia and Herzegovina's richest resource -- fresh, potable water. Guess who is doing the PCB analysis? You got it, the Slovenians. How convenient. More test results are expected today -- i wonder what they may say?

So my beef is basically the complete lack of 1. transparency and 2. the simple fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in Europe not to have any mechanism in place for an indepedent, multi-disciplinary task force that can react to such catastrophes. Even environmental impact assessments, by Bosnian law, must be carried out by the company investing in the development program - be it a forestry road or a hydroelectric dam. That's fucking absurd, a direct conflict of interest and downright irresponsible. And that's exactly the point, this government will at any cost avoid taking responsibility for anything. They love to play pass the hot potato game, which frequently lands in the lap of the international community.

Bosnia and Herzegovina claims to have a European vision. It claims to aspire to EU membership. It claims it is a partner that embraces what is perhaps the most progressive constitution on earth. It claims to live by the principles of rule of law and transparent governance. What this government is, and the big business that supports it, is a brutal medieval theifdom that embraces none of those principles - who ignores the very core of what Europe stands for; multi-ethnicity, tolerance, and justice. The Bosnian Enron will most certainly get away with this, just as they have with every other illegal move they have made in post Dayton Bosnia.

So we are gearing up for the Balkan Environmental Wars...our time has come, we have heard the call. Hasta la victoria siempre.


Blogger Neko Suave said...

Wow, that's pretty hardcore. I didn't understand a lot of this, but why haven't I seen it on the news?

2:46 PM

Blogger che said...

what didn't you understand....che will explain you amigo

2:56 PM

Blogger neeecu said...

Is that the translation you talked about? Central Bosnia?? I guess ther'll be a lot of cabbage in it. ;)

As for this catastrophy, yeah I saw on TV the other day...I don't know where you get all that energy after all these years of dealing with idiots over there!

Nisi normalan!

2:13 PM

Blogger juancho said...

It is true. You should really focus on your fashion sense instead of the, what you say? En-vi-ron-ment? That is shit. Gold Albanian Eagles are the real deal. Get some of them!

11:40 PM

Blogger neeecu said...

I never said what he should do, just wonder, and even admire, his work throughout the years.

"I don't know where you get the energy" means "I could never do that"

Zivio Juancho!

2:01 AM


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