SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Authorities in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar dispatched police Monday to remove residents who have been blocking access to the city’s only landfill over concerns that it poses serious health and environmental risks.
Police, including officers in full riot gear, used force to disperse the protesting crowd, including women and children, and provide access to the Uborak landfill site to a line of packed garbage trucks.
The landfill, located in a residential area, has operated since the 1960s. It is supposed to be for non-hazardous household waste but in recent years authorities have allowed businesses to dump hazardous animal and medical waste in it as well as wastewater treatment sludge.
Several hundred protesters, mostly people living in the vicinity of Uborak, first blocked the landfill last summer which resulted in trash piling up on the streets of Mostar, one of Bosnia’s main tourist destinations.
The initial protests were sparked by leaked water treatment test results that reportedly indicated a strong likelihood of dangerous concentrations in the sludge of highly toxic chemical pollutants known as PCBs.
Environmental activists voiced fears that PCBs and other dangerous pollutants were being released into the famed Neretva River, which runs through Mostar.
The first blockade was lifted after several weeks, when authorities promised to decontaminate the site and relocate the landfill. However, citizens again started blocking access to Uborak Wednesday, saying no action had been taken for months and the landfill continued to operate in clear breach of environmental regulations.