this post was submitted on 13 May 2024
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In the villages surrounding the eastern Serbian city of Smederevo, trouble has brewed over the last eight years. Once a symbol of economic promise, the steel mill acquired by Chinese company HBIS has become synonymous with environmental degradation and health hazards for the local community.

Dubbed the “red village” due to the perpetual crimson hue that coats everything in sight, Radinac is a poignant example of the detrimental effects of industrial Pollution on local life. Concerns about rising cancer cases and the presence of toxic substances like arsenic, chromium, and lead in the dust hang heavily over the community. Residents of nearby villages, such as Radinac, speak of their daily struggles with heavy air pollution and the omnipresent red dust that blankets their homes and streets.

Dragana Milic shares the heartbreaking reality of her grandchildren refusing to venture outdoors, highlighting the profound impact of Pollution on the younger generation’s quality of life. She said, “They won’t play outside.”

The acquisition of the steel mill by HBIS in 2016, amidst high-profile visits from Chinese President Xi Jinping, was initially celebrated as a testament to growing economic ties between China and Serbia. However, the subsequent surge in Pollution levels has cast a shadow over this narrative of progress.

Locals attribute the worsening pollution to the influx of Chinese investment, pointing to throat irritations, persistent soot accumulation, and unpleasant odors as daily reminders of their deteriorating environment.

Activists like Nikola Krstic from NGO Tvrdjava raise alarming concerns about the spike in Pollution since HBIS took over the mill. Despite efforts to address the issue, including a detailed analysis of the dust emissions and legal action against the company, the community’s plight remains largely unresolved.

The Serbian Environmental Protection Agency’s repeated classification of Smederevo as one of the country’s most polluted cities. Data from the Smederevo Health Centre revealing a four-fold increase in cancer cases between 2011 and 2019 further amplifies concerns about the long-term health consequences of unchecked Pollution.

While HBIS has outlined plans to mitigate the environmental impact, skepticism prevails among residents like Milic, who have witnessed promises fall short in the past. The company’s proposed measures, such as constructing a wall around raw material storage and implementing new processing technologies, offer hope but are met with cautious optimism.

[Edit typo.]

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[–] Vodica 2 points 1 month ago

What else did you expect, Serbians deciding to play with Russians and Chinesse.