Police block access to discussion on Linglong tyre factory in Zrenjanin


Photo: Citizens and activists (Građanski preokret)


September 4, 2020






September 4, 2020





Members of environmentalist and activist groups that filed objections to the environmental study for the tyre plant that Linglong is building in Zrenjanin were prevented by the police from entering a public discussion.

The local authority in Zrenjanin limited the number of people at a public discussion about the planned tyre factory of China’s Linglong, preventing as many as one hundred citizens and activists from attending the event. It cited rules that apply during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier, the city government said anyone who submitted comments and objections would be able to enter.

Discussion turned into farce

Security officers in the city assembly building and the police didn’t allow the people in, so they filed an official complaint. Many came from other parts of Serbia. Only hours later, when the crowd dispersed, the local authority organized another session.

Local activist group Građanski preokret said the public discussion on the environmental impact assessment study for the controversial Linglong plant “turned into a farce.” The city government allowed only 30 people in the room, of which half were local officials and representatives of the company, and some were reporters, the statement reveals and adds only 20 minutes was allowed for questions.


Serious flaws

“The authorities were obligated to make sure everyone interested can attend or to postpone the gathering, as there is no rush to push the project. The study has serious flaws,” said Program Director of the Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI) Mirko Popović.

RERI’s Popović: Officials are skipping steps in the process to approve the construction of the factory in Zrenjanin

He claimed officials are skipping steps in the process to approve the construction of the factory and that the document is non-compliant with the law. It’s a case of “salami slicing,” Popović told Balkan Green Energy News and explained the investor is pursuing permits for different elements of the facility.

In his words, as a producer of rubber, Linglong clearly needs to obtain an integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) permit. The study failed to address the cumulative environmental impact, RERI said and underscored it is only one of the conditions that the law stipulates.

The environmental impact assessment study lacks precise data and no alternatives have been offered

The document, produced by Enacta, didn’t offer precise data on the environmental impact nor any alternative with the regard to technology and location. Linglong also didn’t get consent from the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, given that the factory site is near the Carska bara protected area with 240 bird species, Popović asserted.

Citizens protest in front of the city assembly building (Građanski preokret)

Another chemicals plant in pipeline

The company from China earmarked USD 994 million for the investment on 97 hectares and said it would manufacture 13.6 million tires per year.

A local activist group pointed to inadequate capacity to tackle a chemical spill or a fire in a tyre factory as well as to the city’s water shortages

Građanski preokret noted Shandong Yanggu Huatai Chemical intends to open a plant for tributyl phosphate in the same city in northeastern Serbia, to supply it to Linglong. The local forum warned of inadequate capacity in the whole country to deal with a chemical spill or a fire in a tyre factory and that evacuation mechanisms are underdeveloped.

It added Zrenjanin lacks water and asked how the factory’s planned connection to the local waterworks would affect the population.

Procedural breaches

RERI said the city government issued the third illegal construction permit to Linglong on July 10, for auxiliary facilities. It was approved by an authority that has no jurisdiction and the firm falsely claims it doesn’t have to issue an environmental impact assessment study for the said section, the institute stressed.

The Environment Engineering Group said Linglong failed to include its planned mixing mill in the study even though the unit was in the request that it earlier filed to determine whether environmental assessment is necessary.

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