Illegal landfills on Lim and Potpecko Lake in Serbia

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Parts of Lim river in southwestern Serbia and the Drina river in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are considered a huge tourist potential in those parts, in the first days of 2021 looked more like floating landfills, and such images are not uncommon on these rivers. The situation was similar on the Drina near the hydroelectric power plant in Visegrad, and due to the bursting of the cable that stops the waste, the garbage reached the dam and endangered the production of electricity. The situation on Lim is deteriorating as the water level rises, Pribojac’s Sasa Bjelic told the BBC in Serbian.

Authorities began cleaning and removing waste from Lake Potpec in southwestern Serbia, from where frightening images of a pile of plastic bottles, refrigerators, tires, household appliances and even a coffin floating arrived in the first days of 2021. Goran Puzovic, the director of Serbia Water, told the Serbian Radio and Television that, according to initial estimates, the cleaning of the lake will take at least three weeks. He also stated that all the material should be transported to the regional landfill near Uzice.

Sasa Bjelic leads the group VoLim NE dam – against hydro power plants on Lim in Priboj and claims that the main culprit for this situation is the Stanjevina landfill in Prijepolje, which is located on the main road to Montenegro, as well as through mini landfills along the entire river bank.

Zlatan Turkovic from nearby Prijepolje says the landfill has moved the riverbed.

“The sheet metal hits the other side where I have arable land. “Sometimes I take 50 tires out of the field,” Turkovic told the BBC in Serbian.

“As soon as the water level is high, Lim picks up the garbage and then we have such apocalyptic pictures,” adds Bjelic.

The Stanjevina landfill, which is located on the main road to Montenegro, has been closed in the meantime, and the municipal waste from Prijepolje is being dumped at the Duboki Potok landfill in Priboj, reads the response the BBC received in Serbian from the Priboj municipality.

About four thousand cubic meters of floating waste arrived at the crown of the dam in Visegrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which could endanger the work of the HPP company on the Drina, said the director of this company, Nedeljko Perisic. Perisic told reporters that due to the large amount of water that passed through the river in recent days, the cable that should keep the floating waste broke, and with which the hydroelectric power plant has had a problem for decades. He stated that they are fighting this problem on their own and that their knowledge is not optimistic, because more waste could come. He also said that institutions from Serbia, BiH and Montenegro should be involved in solving the problem. More than two years ago, a trilateral meeting of the line ministries of the Republika Srpska, Serbia and Montenegro was held, but the problem has not been resolved, the Srna agency writes.

The Stanjevina landfill has been closed since mid-November, and garbage is now being transported to the Priboj temporary landfill. It should be replaced by a regional transfer station that will be located in Nova Varos and where garbage from Priboj, Prijepolje and Nova Varos will be disposed of. Those three municipalities started the Lim project without illegal landfills and garbage. The plan is to transport the municipal waste of these three municipalities to the regional landfill Duboko, which is located on the territory of the city of Uzice, by building a transfer station with a recycling yard. The plan to rehabilitate the Stanjevina landfill is to build a protective barrier on the right bank of Lim, so that garbage would no longer go into the river. During the summer of 2020, it was agreed to install a floating cable on the river that will stop garbage. Bjelic does not believe that the installation of the cable will change anything. Bjelic states that he received assurances that it would be settled, but that he does not believe it, because “a similar story has been going on for 20 years, and nothing has been done.”

Photos were published on the Priboj Facebook page, asking if the cable could stop the garbage.

“Currently from Lim, on Lake Potpec, near Ribarsko naselje, the hope of tourism in Priboj. Maybe this announced cable could have stopped it? “, It is written in the announcement.