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Throw old environmental impact assessment studies in the trash!

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Today (15.3.2012.) precisely at noon, in front of the HEP building, Vukovarska 37, Green Action activists, in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, held a press conference and performance – YESTERDAY LEŠĆE, TODAY OMBLA, TOMORROW KOSINJ – THROW OLD EIAs INTO THE TRASH!

The activists brought a blue container for paper recycling, which said “For old EIAs”, into which they inserted the EIA for HEPP Lešće on Dobra, HEPP Ombla, and HEPP Kosinj on Lika, warning that HEP is constructing accumulation hydro-plants in limestone areas, based on old and faulty EIAs, leading to permanent damage to nature and the environment, but also great expenses.

Green Action has warned about the damage that HEPP Lešće on Dobra would do six years ago, and now institutions conclude that the environmental impact was not adequately assessed because the EIA was old and faulty (made in 1986). HEP, unfortunately, is still following the policy of using bad and old EIAs while building hydro-plants. The HEPP Ombla project near Dubrovnik, which has been estimated at 152 million euro, is also based on an old and bad assessment. For this project HEP has been granted a conditional loan from the EBRD, despite the opposition of international environmental organizations. Supposedly, HEPP Kosinj on Lika is still in preparation, although it has an ancient assessment (1988). “We ask the Government to discard EIAs which have not been conducted according to modern standards and laws, definitely those older than two years, so that we don’t end up with devastating consequences to nature, the environment and the local populace, and to initiate sanation of the Dobra river and to stop the construction of HEPP Ombla and HEPP Kosinj”, said Jagoda Munić from Green Action.

Representatives of the local population from the endangered areas have warned about such decisions and projects, but also that HEP is ignoring warnings about dangerous consequences. Denis Francisković, from the NGO Eko Pan from Karlovca said: “Since the HEPP started its test run, problems have surfaced. People keep calling us that they’re afraid that someone will drown in the wave when the HEPP releases water, and just as a reminder, the accumulation has, because of bad markings, already taken two lives. The influence of lower average temperatures of the Dobra river is already noticeable on the Kupa river, which was confirmed by local fisherman, and a change in temperature can be fatal to certain kinds of fish”.

Ljubica Matović of Rožata in Dubrovniku said that Government representatives, as well as former and current presidents, are in awe of our beautiful city Dubrovnik, which is protected by UNESCO, they love to show it to everyone and bring foreign dignitaries, so now they should protect this city with actions, not words, and give up on HEPP Ombla. In the project documentation for the Ombla project it says that the HEPP is not in a seismically unstable area, and that the dam and underground accumulation do not raise the danger of earthquakes, while the Dubrovnik area is in the most earthquake endangered area in Croatia. We do not feel safe and do not trust documents that say such untruths, she added.

Marin Pavlović from Komolac on the source of Ombla in Dubrovniku, stated that apart from the fact that HEPP Ombla is a project that is harmful to nature and the environment, it is also technically risky and economically unfeasible, which is the conclusion of the Feasibility Assessment which was conducted in September 2011 by independent consultants for the EBRD. The project can only be economically feasible with considerable co-financing from the state budget or a heavy rise in electricity prices. HEPP Ombla is economically only feasible with water export to the international market, and the golf court on Srđ.

Pavao Klobučar, from Kosinj added that his village has been planned for flooding for 40 years now, so that an accumulation lake can be made there, which brought about the massive immigration of the populace, because they could not even get a permit to extend their house. Therefore, they asked that the accumulation and HEPP Kosinj be stricken from the spatial plans. Ilija Vukelić added to that: “HEP is still blackmailing us with floods (letting out water from the accumulation suddenly during big rain in the winter and spring), like in 2010, because we did not support the construction of the accumulation lake. One month before it was known that there will be a flood and when the flood siren was sounded, it was too late. The drainage tunnel for the Gacka river would not have stopped the flood, but would have alleviated it.”

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