Bill to remediate Celje Basin rejected in parliament

Ljubljana – The National Assembly rejected on Tuesday a bill would have seen the chemical company Cinkarna Celje pay EUR 16 million and the state EUR 7 million in a decade to remediate the heavily polluted Celje Basin.

The bill had been tabled by Janja Sluga, a former MP of the ruling coalition, and supported by four current opposition parties. It had already been voted down by the Infrastructure Committee, with the coalition saying that a more systemic law was needed.

While the centre-left parties saw the bill as a first step in remediating all affected areas in the country, the ruling coalition and the government argued that a systemic bill was needed to tackle the problem, not only in Celje but also elsewhere.

“I regret that the debate has shown that coalition MPs are more concerned with measuring political power than the constitutional right of people to live in a healthy environment,” said Sluga, now an unaffiliated MP.

“Health and the environment have their price, which is unfortunately not paid for with money from the budget, it is paid for by those who live in the affected areas at a much higher price, while you look for systemic solutions,” added Robert Pavšič of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ).

The government had already called the proposal ill-thought through and unclear during the committee debate, with Environment Ministry State Secretary Metka Gorišek saying it would make more sense to address the issue in a systemic way for all degraded areas.

Janez Moškrič of the ruling Democrats (SDS) said today that the current government had made some moves to improve the quality of life in Celje, while Dušan Šiško of the opposition National Party (SNS) labelled the bill as a pre-election ploy by Sluga.

The bill included measures to remediate the soil of Celje schools and surfaces frequented by children, monitoring children from the age of one to nine, raising the locals’ awareness of safe gardening and regulating two streams and their spill areas.

While both the opposition and the coalition agree that problems with environmental degradation exist all across the country, not only in Celje, they remain on different sides, as the coalition insists on long-term systemic solutions.