Tailings in Leposavic spilled into the Ibar after a rampart collapsed

A part of the Trepca tailings pond in Leposavic spilled into the Ibar river yesterday when a part of the rampart that separated the tailings pond from the river collapsed. The rampant has been fixed and an assessment of how much waste material spilled into the Ibar will be carried out today.

A temporary earth rampart around the tailings in Leposavic collapsed in the early afternoon yesterday. The locals who live near this industrial waste site reveal that tires and sand were used as a temporary solution and that representatives of the local self-government, including the environmental protection inspector, were present at the scene.

The director of Trepca, Jovan Dimkic said that it was a minor accident which has already been fixed with a new satisfactory rampant.

„There were floods in the Leposavic area as well. Nothing catastrophic happened, nothing terrible. By tomorrow, we will have a full solution. The problem has already been fixed,“ he told KoSSev.

The mayor of Leposavic, Zoran Todic also  told KoSSev last night that the municipality, along with the citizens, Trepca workers, and the competent inspectors, did everything it could to fix the collapsed rampant as soon as possible.

„We are now working on compiling a report. I must underline that this goes beyond the competencies of the municipality. Specifically, in this case, Trepca receives the permission to exploit the ore from the competent institutions in Pristina, primarily the Agency for Ores and Minerals,“ Todic emphasized, adding that their inspector was also present on the scene.

The Agency for Ores and Minerals is also responsible for waste disposal, while the Kosovo Ministry of Environmental Protection is responsible for the terrain beyond the tailings.

„We expect an accurate assessment of how much waste material went into the Ibar River. No one is happy about what happened today, but these issues exceed our municipal competencies,“ Todic said in a statement for KoSSev.

On the other hand, both locals and experts reveal that they are not surprised that part of the tailings spilled into the Ibar. 

Wastewater from the Leposavic tailings, located only a few hundred meters from the town center, has been discharged into the Ibar River for a while now, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine in North Mitrovica, Aleksandar Corac confirmed in an interview with KoSSev last year. Corac warned that this is a large-scale ecological catastrophe and that all residents of the municipalities in the river basin are endangered.

Local resident Zlatko Sekulic stressed that it is an „ecological disaster“ that will reach Kraljevo via the Ibar. He told KoSSev that the living conditions in the summer become unbearable during strong winds, which spread the tailings dust into their homes and yards.

„We are directly endangered. There are about a hundred households. We spoke and warned of this problem. While the memorandum we signed with the municipality to solve the tailings issue came to nothing. We also wanted to block the entrance to the factory this morning,“ Sekulic told KoSSev on Sunday.

The director of Trepca, Jovan Dimkic, on the other hand, explained that the tailings must be located near the ore exploitation site. As he emphasized, even though the heavy industry is not popular, many families from the Leposavic area support themselves by working in this factory.

Although Trepca previously proposed a system of irrigation that would alleviate the spread of dust in the summer, Dimkic now reveals that the existing tailings will be closed in a couple of years.

„We have a project for a new tailings pond, and this one will be closed in about 3.5 years, up to four or five years at the latest,“ he said, adding that the new tailings pond will be located in the vicinity of the ore exploitation site.

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