Waste Disposal Schemes and air Pollution, the Residents of Sofia, Bulgaria Murdered by the Greed of a few

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, has received first place for the most polluted capital in Europe. It managed to solidify this position by having the highest air pollution registered in all major European towns.

Bulgaria may still be far away from China’s over 90% pollution of drinkable water and air thick enough to make a brick from, but the local authorities in Sofia have done everything in their power through the last few years to make sure that the city soon reaches the Chinese standard. The latest case is the unregulated burning of construction waste, rubber, plastic and second-hand clothing. Local media in Bulgaria revealed the common practice of giving away unwanted thrash instead of paying for its transportation to the landfill. This way, old wooden window frames and doors, covered in paint and polish are burned in unregulated fires together with old tires and plastic. The people usually get this waste either for free or on prices much lower than the ones for proper furnace fuel, which makes the offer that much more lucrative. This way, through the greed of a few companies which do not want to pay for waste disposal, the air in Sofia gets constantly polluted with formaldehyde filled smog, paired with miniature particles of unburned plastic and other pollutant particles.

Even though this may sound like some covert underground scheme, happening on such a low level, with transactions of practically unobtrusive amount, that the government cannot register it, then there is no excuse for the second part. For those who have not had the opportunity to live in Sofia, it may come as a surprise that there is an actual unregulated landfill in close vicinity to West Park. The park, enclosed between the neighbourhoods “Lyulin” and “Fakultet” is often used for unregulated waste disposal for a decade if not even more. All sorts of thrash finds its place there - construction waste, domestic waste, and industrial products. Often times residents of the “Fakultet” neighbourhood can be seen scouring the unregulated landfill for tires and other easy to burn thrash which later finds its place in the unbreathable Sofian air. Through the years many signals about the landfill, the unregulated burning and the unlawful cutting of trees from the park have found their way towards the Sofia Municipality, only to fall on deaf ears. Even a report on one of Bulgaria’s major television channels was not enough to persuade local authority to do something about this ecological disaster.

A few years ago, in the far away 2010-2011 the local government in Sofia planned on dealing with the problem of traffic. This was a welcomed decision by the citizen of the capital, many of which came up with different propositions on the topic. One of the propositions came from the Citizen Initiative for Public and Rail Transport who suggested that promoting the use of bicycles and optimizing public transport will help deal with a lot of the city’s traffic issues. The answer of the government was to either ignore citizen’s propositions, or say that there are incomplete, incompetent and impractical. In the end, the decision to deal with the city’s heavy traffic was to promote more traffic, thus the construction of 5 two-storey intersections began. The results are visible, about 8,000 cases of tumours of the respiratory system, rising numbers in lung diseases and permission to publicly carry a machete, so you can cut a path for yourself through the thick air. Why road construction was preferred to all other propositions, is a land of speculation about the funding of European projects and their proper assimilation between the 22nd and 29th meridian.

The mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova blamed the pollution on citizens who heat their homes with hard-fuel heaters instead of electrical ones. The media paraphrased her statement in the vein of Marie Antoinette  “If smog is the problem, heat on electricity”.

(Picture taken from: cross.bg)

Bozhidar Lazarov

Bozhidar Lazarov is a freelance writer, hobbyist programmer and an aspired novelist. Feel free to follow him on https://www.minds.com/seriousways for his latest articles and personal projects.

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