The Slovenia Times

Owners ordered to remove heaps of gypsum from fields

Industry & Agriculture

Slovenj Gradec - After several farmers in the northern KoroŇ°ko region unwittingly polluted their fields with white substance that turned out to be waste gypsum containing high levels of heavy metals, owners of plots who have not yet treated their fields with the substance have been ordered to remove heaps of gypsum from their land.

Environment inspectors have established that the white substance deposited on farmland in the municipalities of Dravograd and Slovenj Gradec is waste gypsum likely originating in the glassmaking industry.

Unlike lime, which farmers use to manage soil acidity, this type of gypsum is not suitable to treat soil with as the farmers mistakenly thought.

As the inspectors have been unable to find who produced the waste, they have ordered six owners of plots where the waste has been illegally deposited to remove it within three weeks.

Speaking for the STA, the inspection service has estimated the farmers will need to remove 400 cubic metres of illegally dumped waste, and on one plot it is an estimated 75 tonnes.

Meanwhile, another inspection service, that responsible for farming, forestry and food, is handling the matter in cases where gypsum has already been scattered on the fields.

The service told the STA it had not yet issued any fines or other notices to the farmers involved because all the facts had to be ascertained first.

It said they had so far taken eight samples from the heaps of gypsum stored at farms with analysis showing lead levels to be exceeded seven- to 44-fold in seven cases.

Later the inspectors took nine samples directly from the substance deposited on farmland and three samples of soil treated with the substance, with seven more such samples yet to be taken.

So far 22 farms have been included in the inspection procedure.

Based on the results of analysis of the samples, potential residues of heavy metals in milk and meat linked to the contaminated areas used for production of food and fodder will be monitored by the Food Safety Administration.

Slovenj Gradec Mayor Tilen Klugler today urged the ministries of agriculture and environment to come up with an action plan to tackle the situation as promised within three work days.

The pollution is also being looked into by the police.

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