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Serbia contaminated soil diagnosis

UNEP last month launched the first ever nationwide efforts to identify and map industrial contamination of soil in the Republic of Serbia.


Locations linked to energy production and the chemical or metal industries are among those to undergo closer examination for evidence of soil pollution. A national map will then be produced of contaminated sites and officials trained on monitoring and reporting so that clean-up efforts can get underway.


Industrial production has been an economic driver in the Republic of Serbia, but has also been shown to be among the major causes of soil contamination. Among the various organic pollutants in the country are the heavy metals or potential carcinogens Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Nickel (Ni), Chromium (Ch) and Cobalt (Co).


Locations close to industrial sites – generally on public or abandoned land - will be given priority in the investigation, which will take place between March and October this year. The list of locations will be drawn up based on an inventory of 359 potentially contaminated sites.


As a result of the investigation, mapping and capacity building, the Serbian government will be able to establish a baseline for clean-up efforts, which are a national priority.


The decision to establish a list of polluted locations in Serbia for further investigation was taken at a steering committee meeting by UNEP together with the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and other national bodies. It comes under a project run by UNEP and the Global Environment Fund titled ‘Enhanced cross-sectoral land management through land use pressure reduction and planning’.


The project is in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 15 ‘Life on land,’ which aims to halt and reverse land degradation. Work on assessing contaminated soil following conflict has also been carried out by UNEP across the entire Balkans region under its Post Conflict and Disaster Management branch.


The industrial sites initiative takes place thanks to the support of the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, which is contributing USD 400,000 for capacity building as part of the project; and the Global Environment Fund, which is providing USD 780,000 to cover broader costs.


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