Tons of waste – including plastic bottles, used tires and fridge-freezers – have turned a river famous for its emerald color and stunning scenery into a rubbish dump.

Drina River in Visegrad in the east Bosnia and Herzegovina Covered with litter after wet season.

Waste from poorly regulated riverside landfills has accumulated behind a barrier in the river, leaving a vast carpet of pollution that stretches the width of the water.

Part of the refrigerator floats among the garbage.
Part of the refrigerator floats among the garbage.

Rusty barrels, household goods, driftwood and other rubbish carried by the river from its tributaries are all trapped by a fence installed by a hydroelectric plant in Bosnia, a few kilometers upstream from its dam. is towards

Environmental activists say the resulting blockage has turned the town into an unofficial regional dumping ground.

Heavy rains and unseasonably warm weather over the past week have overflowed many rivers and streams in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro, flooding nearby areas and forcing many people from their homes. Have been forced.

Scenery of the Drina Valley when cleared of waste
This is what the Drina River looked like in the past.

‘Big influx of garbage’

Temperatures dropped in many areas on Friday after the rain turned to snow.

This is not the first time the area has been littered with garbage, a similar situation occurred in 2021, threatening the local ecosystem and people’s health.

Dejan Furtola, of the environmental group Ecocenter Vizgrad, said: “We have had a lot of rain in recent days and flash floods and large inflows of water. [the Drina’s tributaries in] Montenegro which is now fortunately subsidizing.

“Unfortunately, the massive influx of waste has not stopped.”

Waste trapped by river fences
Fencing of the stream has trapped waste.

The Drina River – which is intensely green due to its limestone terrain and is often enjoyed by the river – runs 346km (215 miles) through the mountains of northwestern Montenegro through Serbia and Bosnia.

About 10,000 cubic meters (over 353,000 cubic feet) of waste is estimated to have accumulated behind the barrier in recent days. A similar amount was extracted from this area of ​​the river in recent years.

Health hazard

It can take six months to remove the waste and it will end up as a landfill.

Mr Furtola said the local waste site “doesn’t even have enough capacity to handle it [the city’s] Municipal waste. A fire is always burning at the landfill site.”

He described the conditions there as “not only a huge environmental and health hazard, but also a huge embarrassment for all of us.”

The waste will end up in a landfill.
An aerial view of the river

A brutal three-and-a-half-year war in the 1990s, in which 100,000 people died, The Balkans lag behind Europe. Both economically and environmentally.

Despite gaining membership in the European Union and adopting some EU laws and regulations, countries in the region have made little progress in building efficient, environmentally sound waste disposal systems.

In addition to river pollution, many countries in the Western Balkans face extremely high levels of air pollution, with some towns among the most polluted on the planet.

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