Bosnia and Herzegovina government must address coal power pollution

Coal mining and coal-fired power plants have a disastrous impact on the environment and human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The government needs to urgently address the situation, write FIAN International and Arhus Centre in BiH in a letter to the country’s prime minister this week.

In Tuzla, in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), farmers and local residents are affected by contaminated water and crops, as well as waterlogging, water scarcity, and damage to houses. Pollution caused by coal thermal power plants is a major cause of respiratory diseases, allergies, various types of cancer and other serious health consequences.

Tuzla has the country’s largest area affected by coal mining, which has degraded 4,400 ha of land and 4,417 ha of forest vegetation. Tuzla Thermal Power Plant – built between 1959 and 1978 and operated by publicly owned Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine (EPBiH) – is the main source of air pollution in BiH.

And despite its heavy toll on human health, an additional unit is being discussed, which would expand the capacity of the existing four units.

Locally produced food is being contaminated due to inappropriate covering and recultivation of closed-off coal sites containing high levels of harmful chemicals. The Government of BiH has failed to adequately address the root causes of pollution and degradation of natural resources and the resulting consequences.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is clearly infringing its human rights and environmental commitments and obligations enshrined in a number of international instruments, notably the rights to food, health and a healthy environment.

Recommendations to the Government of BiH:

  • Cease planning new coal power facilities and subsidizing coal-fired power plants and coalmines. Instead, establish ambitious coal phase-out goals and develop a strategic framework and road map for exiting lignite-based energy production, as well as for the compensation and rehabilitation of those whose rights have been violated.
  • Safeguard, respect, and restore biodiversity, with a focus on the right to adequate food and nutrition and to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment considering its crucial role in food production and maintaining people’s wellbeing and health.
  • Acquire explicit consent from affected villagers, for any project that could potentially cause ecological degradation and seriously threaten the local food systems and agriculture; and ensure implementation of all pollution prevention measures defined in environmental permits and international treaties signed by BiH.

Read the full letter to BiH prime minister here.

For more information or media interviews please contact Tom Sullivan, FIAN International Communication & Campaigns:



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