Civil initiative blames Salonit for pollution in Soča valley

Ljubljana – The Anhovo-based cement producer Salonit, which celebrates its centenary this year, has been accused by a civil initiative of being involved in illegal practices and of misleading the public and local population. The company announced efforts today to reduce its carbon footprint but said nothing about mercury, the group called Danes (Today) said.

In presenting its annual business results, Salonit announced a new investment cycle with the aim of reducing its carbon footprint, but according to data by the Environment Agency the company is the main source of mercury emissions in Slovenia, said Miha Stegel from Today.

“Salonit Anhovo is allowed to release five times as many toxic heavy metals per tonne of waste as the Celje incinerator. It is sad that the decrees regulating co-incineration allow for such differences,” Steger wrote in a press release.

The civil initiative also pointed to problems with drinking water supply. It has been warning that Salonit had obtained an extension of a permit for process water last week, which it however also plans to use for the supply of drinking water.

This is not in line with the water act, the civil group warns, noting that the permit was thus illegal.

The cement producer has in the past already used a process water source to supply people with drinking water, which is against the law and regulations, and it plans to continue with such practices in the future, the group said, referring to a contract Salonit signed last month.

Under the law, a water permit can be used only for the purposes for which it had been obtained. A permit for drinking water supply to general public can be obtained only by the state or a municipality, the group said.

It reported this to the Environment Ministry, the Water Agency and the Environmental Inspectorate. “We expect the inspectorate to determine the water was not used properly in the past years and make a final decision based on this,” the group said last month.

The group detected irregularities after the Močila water supply system was found to be polluted last summer. Because of a pump malfunction at the main supply spot of Močila, which supplies drinking water to more than 1,100 people, water was pumped for a while from a spot downstream from Salonit, which releases process water.

In February, the civil initiative turned to the State Prosecutor’s Office over the matter.

“Inappropriate water plant, problems with the supply of drinking water and illegal use of water permits along with air pollution and many diseases is the actual reality of living with the company Salonit Anhovo,” Stegel said.

“The company has obviously learnt nothing from the asbestos tragedy. One hundred years of irresponsibility and deaths is enough,” he added.