Croatia was bound to inform Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Srpska that its intention was to build a radioactive waste disposal site at our borders, and it failed to do so, said Srebrenka Golić, Minister of Physical Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of Republic of Srpska.
“Sole speaking about storing radioactive waste at the site that is only 3.5 kilometres away, and significantly less through the shortest air route, from the centre of the municipality populated by 28,799 people, is inhumane by itself”, she pointed out.
According to her words, there is no argumentation that would justify construction of such a hazardous radioactive waste disposal site.
NN: What is actually the truth about possible disposal of nuclear waste from the Croatian side on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, that is Republic of Srpska?
GOLIĆ: The Ministry of Physical Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of Republic of Srpska has undertaken all necessary activities with regard to the intention of Croatia to implement a radioactive waste disposal project at the site of Trgovska gora at the territory of Dvor municipality. We insist on obtaining all relevant information from the Republic of Croatia, that is their line ministry, in order to enable not only the Republic of Srpska Government, but also the joint BiH institutions, to use all international mechanisms of protection in these instances. Immediately upon receiving information that Trgovska gora near Dvor na Uni was marked as a potential location for radioactive waste disposal, we have sent a letter to the competent ministry of the Republic of Croatia on the 8th April 2015, requesting the relevant information. After that, I have personally written to Mihael Zmajlović, the Minister for Protection of Environment and Nature of the Republic of Croatia and asked for certain clarifications. We have received information from Croatia that the request from the Ministry of Physical Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of Republic of Srpska was being processed and that we should be expecting a reply. I have informed the member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency from Republic of Srpska, Mladen Ivanić, as well as the ministers in the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mirko Šarović and Igor Crnadak, on all the undertaken actions. I have alerted them that the aforesaid activities can have a huge impact on the environment and the health of people of Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina and asked them to take a stand on this issue and undertake all the steps within their responsibility.
NN: But, everything is happening at the territory of another country. Is it possible to influence this matter at all?
GOLIĆ: Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina are protected by the Espoo Convention in this matter. This is a UN Convention on Environment Impact Assessment across national borders, which was ratified by BiH in 2009 and its signatory is also the Republic of Croatia, as far back as in 1996. This Convention is applied in all the cases when a certain project, in this case the one of the Republic of Croatia, can have an impact on the environment of another country, in this case this is BiH, that is RS. To cut it short, Republic of Croatia was bound to officially inform the “affected country” on undertaken activities as soon as possible, and at the time of informing its own public the latest. I remind all that in December 2014, the Croatian Parliament adopted a strategy anticipating the location of Trgovska gora in Dvor municipality as one of the sites for radioactive waste disposal which is located 3.5 kilometres of road distance from the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Novi Grad municipality. Espoo Convention anticipates protection mechanisms through which we will obtain all the relevant information and after that we would decide how to act regarding the issue of this site on Trgovska gora. It is certain that we will exhaust all the possibilities available at the level of Republic of Srpska and the BiH joint institutions to protect the health of our citizens.
NN: However, the most affected by this whole situation are the people living in this area. Have you spoken to them yet? What can they expect from the authorities?
GOLIĆ: I would say to Novi Grad citizens and the citizens of other municipalities in this region that they will get the strongest support possible from the Ministry of Physical Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology and that we will not allow, primarily human lives and the health of people to come into jeopardy, and then the environment. Sole speaking about storing radioactive waste at the site that is only 3.5 kilometres away, and significantly less through the shortest air route, from the centre of the municipality populated by 28,799 people, is inhumane by itself. If we add neighbouring municipalities and river Una supplying the population with potable water, it is clear that we are speaking about huge impact on people’s health and the environment. The Ministry supports activities undertaken by Novi Grad local authorities and other municipalities disregarding the entities’ borders.
NN: Who is responsible here for assessing possible health risks?
GOLIĆ: Provided that lives and health of the people can be in jeopardy here, we have requested a response from the Republic of Srpska Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, because it is within their responsibility to take care of the health of the people. Also, we have sent an official letter to the BiH National Regulatory Agency for Radioactive and Nuclear Safety, who is in charge to represent BiH at international level on the issues within the scope of radiation and nuclear safety.
NN: And, let’s say, is there a possibility for a situation where Croatia could express their preparedness to administer “the highest protection standards” and in such way formally prevent argumentation of the BiH side, that is RS?
GOLIĆ: Even though Republic of Croatia, as an EU member state, in the event that Trgovska gora is chosen as a storing site, would have to meet all the European standards stipulated for these activities, we believe that this site cannot meet these requirements under any circumstances. According to our preliminary findings, the density of the population in this area, as one of the parameters, does not satisfy these standards, which automatically eliminates this site as a possible radioactive waste disposal site.
The letter is a criminal falsification
NN: A letter appeared in the public, allegedly signed by you, in which you claimed that there were no risks...?
GOLIĆ: The letter that appeared in Novi Grad is a typical falsification and planting, that has all the features of a political opposition. This is a criminal act, and someone has abused the Memorandum of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology, the seal of the Ministry and my signature in the harshest possible manner. The falsification is obviously intended to violate the dignity of the institution of the President of the Republic, the Ministry and Novi Grad municipality, as well as the dignity of Milorad Dodik, Srebrenka Golić and Snežana Rajlić personally. The content of the letter is a complete nonsense, and I hope that Novi Grad citizens have recognised a provocation that they did not buy. It is completely absurd to comment the allegations from the letter in which someone, as if, supports storing of radioactive waste in such a heavily populated area.
DEJAN ŠAJINOVIĆ – 16TH APRIL 2015