Environment

Selling, burning coal tailings responsible for boost in air pollution in Serbia

coal tailings air pollution Serbia

Photo: Pixabay

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November 10, 2020

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Published:

November 10, 2020

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In a video widely shared on Facebook and Twitter, Petnica Science Center’s manager Vigor Majić attributed the excessive air pollution in Serbia in the past several years to the use of tailings or fake coal for heating, but he also slammed the government, saying it didn’t use a single control mechanism it has in its arsenal.

This year’s beginning of the heating season in the country again brought extreme air pollution. The video, which prompted a massive reaction on social networks, is from a debate on environmental protection held in February.

Majić said at the event that air pollution has been rapidly rising in the previous 15 years and noted the sale of raw lignite to households for heating was banned until the 1990s. The material was only used for industrial purposes. When the imports of higher-quality coal from Bosnia ceased, he added, authorities started tolerating raw lignite in the market.

Fake coal is actually refuse and the share of clay in it is 30% to 40%

The turning point was four or five years before, or one year earlier in the case of Belgrade, Majić stressed. He claimed coal mafia excavates coal tailings containing 30% to 40% of clay and sells it cheap as normal coal to hundreds of thousands of households.

Burning such coal results in smoke that doesn’t lift but falls to the ground

Majić said the scheme started in places near the mines in Lazarevac, leading to a spike in pollution in Valjevo, followed by Lajkovac, Ub and Lazarevac.

“A huge amount of the fake coal appeared in the market in Belgrade. It is not coal and it includes a high share of clay, which is heavy and causes the smoke to fall to the ground with everything it contains, instead of lifting”, he explained.

Majić said the issue is a taboo topic and that it could be stopped easily by inspecting marketed coal and the quality certificates for the commodity, as stipulated by law. In his words, no one used the option yet.

It is no secret that burning fossil fuels and other materials in individual heating boilers, primarily in households, is one of the main sources of air pollution, but Majić’s claims are notable as he raised the said issue in public.

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