Izairi: Makstil and Jugohrom are not the only polluters
Environmental pollution has caused reaction among citizens and various NGOs. They respond by asking industrial facilities that alarmingly pollute the air to put environmental filters according to European standards. We have a half-solution for the company Jugohrom, the largest air polluter in Tetovo. A company that has requested an extension of the work for two more years without meeting the standards, a claim accepted by the government
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On this topic, about the pollution caused by iron and steel processing companies not only in Tetovo, but also in Skopje and Bitola, for the online magazine we talked to the Minister of Environment, Nurhan Izairi.
Inbox7: Mr. Izairi, thank you for accepting the invitation for this interview.
Izairi: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express our views to your institution.
Inbox7: Mr. Izairi, as Minister of Environment do you feel responsible for the fact that the company for processing metals Jugohorom in Tetovo is going to continue working for two years, despite the fact it does not have environmental filters?
Izairi: Responsibility, I want to say that we as government have indicated that from 1st November this year we will start to introduce ecological order. So from the beginning of this month government’s efforts contributed and Makstil closed the plants where they were supposed to comply with the work plan to install filters. So the next three to four months until Makstil mounts filters, it will not work. It is my responsibility. While Jugohrom itself also introduces some order, partial, although as a Ministry we pointed out it would be better for it to align with the work plan without having to stop work until they put the filters. The government had a different attitude, economic and social factors were taken into account and conditional consent was given in the first 6 months to prove that with the implementation of the same operating plan that we will follow, if in a given period of 6 months it starts realizing them in advanced phase, it will proceed further according to the work plan. Otherwise if they do not do it in those six months, it will not work and then the government will have their own opinion about the social aspect, i.e. care of the employees in that company.
Inbox7: You say that initially you did not agree with the fact the company Jugohrom to continue the work without environmental filters for two more years. What was the reaction of other Albanian ministers when this issue was debated in Government?
Izairi: We gave the opinion, as I said, because in these 6 months they did not work on implementation of the work plan. But now they delivered quite an ambitious plan and it was agreed that they would realize it and we agreed in the government, so whether it was discussed or not I would not say, but I would say that everyone in the government is for clean air and clean environment and no one is for or against pollution. It should be understood that way but the government considers not only environmental problems, also social and economic problems and ultimately decides as it decides and the result is what the public knows and we as ministry respect the decision by the government.
Inbox7: The air continues to be polluted, but who will take responsibility about health impacts caused by air pollution which is continuously over the normal average?
Izairi: The air remains in critical condition and we expect that the closure of Makstil will immediately correct the picture and there will be fresh air. This is not so for Tetovo, Skopje, Bitola and other towns in the country and it is not just these polluters. I want to say that they are some of the polluters, but regarding the impact of pollution on human health there are other factors, there are other pollutants, and people themselves sometimes unconsciously do not know that they are polluters. Unconsciously people do not think that they themselves are polluters, for example with the use of vehicles. According to some statistics vehicles are one third that pollutes the air and it is all of us, the way we drive, which means that indirectly all of us affect our health.
Inbox7: Meanwhile a half-solution has been found about the company Jugohrom in Tetovo, the other company in Skopje “Makstil” decided to close one section and cut production by 30%. But citizens continue to complain about polluted air?
Izairi: Let’s make it clear. Makstil has closed the sections that need to comply with the work plan. Citizens should not be misled that it works and further pollutes the air. It did not put the filters in the set time limit and as the production process is such, it needs to stop so that filters are mounted in these parts, so it is not working in the area where it produces and in the following three-four months unless it sets filters it will not work.
Inbox7: Are you sure that it does not work? You have performed control; it means that the State Environmental Inspectorate was in Makstil after the decision passed, because people who live in the settlement Zelezara say it is in smoke?
Izairi: On 31st, that is 1st, State Environmental Inspectorate banned further performance under the law. It means that since it failed by October 31st, it has a ban on those elements that are not aligned. The Inspectorate monitors another thing, too, an indicator that in order to work will need to get electricity from a supplier, it does not have it and the citizens to be sure that it is not working. But it is not only that polluter, there are other potential polluters around that part, with B integrated permit in responsibility of the City of Skopje and they follow it. The City of Skopje is legally obliged to follow it. We are authorized by law to point out that there is still pollution and the City of Skopje and the local authorities are responsible for some potential polluters.
Inbox7: Institute of Public Health reported that other polluters are REK Bitola, Oslomej, great traffic and the heating process? What measures are you going to take in this direction?
Izairi: As far as the energy factors are concerned, under the Law on Environment REK Bitola Oslomej should be harmonized until 2017, so we follow that. On your question what we do for other polluters, we are in constant contact with the City of Skopje and other mayors so they can make a plan for their municipality to harmonize and be awake in the following period. There are several ways that they should take on pollution. There are several methods that we discussed such as traffic ban in system odd-even rationing or alternative traffic inside the city or traffic according to time periods, so it is a plan that municipalities should make and contribute to it.
Inbox7: Thank you Mr. Izairi.
This was an interview with the Minister of Environment, Nurhan Izairi, we discussed the air pollution or major contributors to this pollution. According to the Minister, pollution is not only caused by the metal processing companies, but also by heavy traffic and heating process in autumn-winter period.