Huge islands of garbage floating on rivers in the Balkans are causing an environmental emergency and threatening a regional hydropower plant.
Plastic bottles, rusty barrels and other waste could be seen clogging the Drina River near the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad on Tuesday as a broken barrier caused a massive buildup of garbage on the Drina that has threatened Bosnia’s Visegrad dam.
Upstream, the Drina’s tributaries in Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia carried even more debris after swollen waterways spilled over into landfills.
Officials say that between 6,000 and 8,000 cubic metres of waste are pulled out of the river each year near Visegrad.
At the Visegrad dam, efforts began Tuesday (local time) to clear away the clogging garbage and to avoid potential damage to the power system.
An environmental activist from the Eco Center group, Dejan Furtula, said the garbage in the Drina also is a hazard for the the local community because waste removed from the river is dumped on a local landfill, which is often on fire and produces toxic liquid that flows back into the Drina.
“We are all in danger here, the entire ecosystem,” he said.
In southwest Serbia, the Lim River has created a similar problem at the Potpecko accumulation lake, footage posted on social media has shown the scale of the pollution.
Images of layers of garbage covering both the artificial lake and the Drina have sparked outrage.
“Horrific and shameful,” read a headline in Serbia’s Blic daily newspaper this week, describing the Potpecko lake as a “floating landfill.”
Both the Drina and the Lim rivers are known for their emerald colour and the breathtaking scenery along their banks. Running along the border between Bosnia and Serbia, the Drina is highly popular with river rafters in the region.
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