The authorities in Zrenjanin in Serbia are ignoring the breach of law, citizens and environmentalist organizations claimed. They dug up some of the waste that they say was dumped by a plastics recycling plant, owned by an investor from China, and they brought it in front of the city administration building.
Environmental activists placed several bags and large pieces of plastic and metal waste in front of the entrance to the Zrenjanin Town Hall. They accused Chinese plastics treatment firm FeitianSuye of illegally burying trash next to an irrigation canal in Perlez.
Their intention was to deliver the waste that they dug up next to the plant to Mayor Simo Salapura. A hundred people or so gathered in the village in the city’s territory. The locals took guests to the facility’s wastewater canal and said it pollutes the water that farmers use to irrigate crops.
Environmental inspectors from Zrenjanin temporarily halted the factory’s activities in April. The locals say the plant kept on working. In early June, Deputy Mayor Saša Santovac visited the factory and claimed the owner “invested in removing the obstacles in the production process.”
Teodora Gavran from the Belorepan environmentalist group, named after the white-tailed eagle, said during the not-in-my-back-yard gathering outside the town hall that she spotted police officers in the morning and that they followed her from Perlez to Zrenjanin. “Instead of recycling, they are burying it. They polluted our irrigation canal just 300 meters from the pumping station” for waterworks, she asserted as the municipal police was checking the participants’ identification documents.
There were plainclothes police at the rally in Perlez, Gavran said. “The constitution guarantees our freedom to defend nature,” she stressed.
If the institutions that are responsible for the matter don’t meet the activists’ demands, they will block all entrances to the factory in a week, Teodora Gavran warned.
FeitianSuye was burying the waste that it didn’t process instead of taking it away, said Dušan Kokot from Građanski preokret, an activist group from Zrenjanin. “Inspectors must have seen what people saw yesterday, but no one reacted”, he told our news website.
Nothing changed, it was just one decision to block activities and another to allow them, while the canal is now unusable and it needs to be cleaned, Kokot underscored.
FeitianSuye bought the facility, which used to be called Begej-plast, in 2018 from German company Eos Matrix.
Linglong, another Chinese investor in Zrenjanin, built structures on a lot of 4.7 hectares without a construction license within a tire plant project, and Građanski preokret says the license was issued after that and that it prompted it to file a lawsuit. The organization earlier filed a criminal complaint for building without a permit.
President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić said those who organize protests against pollution “have a frivolous and irresponsible approach.” He stressed the government is determined to prevent the possibility that Linglong leaves and added that the company would provide income for entire Zrenjanin and the central part of the Banat region. “It is horrible, how embarrassed I feel in front of people that are supposed to invest EUR 850 million in our country,” Vučić added.