Fifteen residents of Veliki Crljeni have sued Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) for water, air and soil pollution caused by the Kolubara A coal-fired power plant, a coal dump, an ash dump, a pond of residues as well as a heating plant in Vreoci. It is the first time that Serbian citizens have asked for the protection of personality rights due to pollution, on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights. A verdict in their favor could be a turning point in the fight against pollution in Serbia.
A preparatory hearing in the case launched by the residents of Veliki Crljeni, who live in the immediate vicinity of the Kolubara A power station, was held today before the High Court in Belgrade. The inhabitants of the villages of the municipality of Lazarevac ask EPS to close the plant or install the best available techniques to protect them from pollution, as well as compensation for material and immaterial damage.
The process could be a turning point in protecting citizens from pollution in Serbia
Some residents are also members of the Za zdravije sutra (For a healthier future) association, founded in 2018 with the aim of protecting the residents of Veliki Crljeni from pollution. The village of about 200 families has suffered for years from emissions of particles PM10, PM2.5, sulfur dioxide (SO2), soot from the coal-fired power plant and heating plant, dust from coal and ash from coal and ash dumps, landslides, sewage, but the authorities are silent. The burning of coal is one of the main sources of air pollution, a big problem in Serbia.
The analysis of the hair, nails, blood of the inhabitants will be made in order to prove the harmful effect of coal
Lawyer Sreten Đorđević, the attorney for prosecutors, told Balkan Green Energy News that for the first time, pollution prosecutions are based on the protection of personality rights, which is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. man, of which Serbia is a signatory.
The European Court of Human Rights has delivered numerous judgments in favor of EU citizens on the basis of the protection of personality rights
The European Court of Human Rights has issued numerous verdicts in favor of citizens on the basis of the protection of personality rights, and this practice is included in prosecutions, ćorđević said.
The trial will also be unique for the various expertises aimed at proving that the operation of the thermal power station, the coal and ash dumps and the boiler room of Vreoci is harmful to the health of the inhabitants and that it pollutes the water, the soil and air.
Residents demand the closure of all polluting facilities or the implementation of the best available techniques
An analysis of the hair, nails and blood of the inhabitants will be carried out in order to prove the harmful impact of the installations. Measurements of the amount of PM, as well as their composition, and an analysis of the soil, biomass and water will also be carried out. This will be done in a way never seen before in Serbia, he said.
The inhabitants demand the closure of all polluters or the implementation of the best available techniques (BAT). In addition, they seek compensation for immaterial damage due to mental pain and fear caused by endangered health, as well as compensation for material damage due to declining crop income, declining production. land value and increased maintenance costs.
Residents are not informed of the state of the environment
Lawyer Đorđević says residents do not have access to information on the state of the environment because EPS is not cooperating. The EPS also declared all accident data to be a trade secret, withholding information from citizens about chemical and other accidents and health risks to which they were exposed years ago, he said. he adds.
TPP Kolubara A should be closed by the end of 2023
Đorđević is very optimistic about the outcome. “We are ready to fight,” he said.
The lawsuit could be a cornerstone in the fight for clean air, water and soil in all polluted places in Serbia, according to the lawyer.
This could become valuable in the fight for the human rights of Serbian citizens in court when they are violated by pollution, he said.
The Kolubara A coal-fired power plant is expected to be closed by the end of 2023 due to the harmonization of the plant’s activity in Serbia with European directives, unless it is modernized to the highest European standards by then, which is not yet planned.