Soil investigation gets underway in Serbia

The first ever nationwide attempt to identify and map soil sites contaminated by industry in the Republic of Serbia gets underway this week.

Belgrade - The first ever nationwide attempt to identify and map soil sites contaminated by industry in the Republic of Serbia gets underway this week.

Experts from Italy are joining counterparts from Serbia to conduct soil sampling at two sites near the towns of Sabac and Loznica suspected of contamination so that they can be assessed and remediated.

A list of locations has been drawn up based on an inventory of 359 potentially contaminated sites. The UN Environment project will be followed on the ground by major European broadcaster Euronews.

Soil samples are being taken from the ‘Zorka – Obojena Metalurgija’ chemicals industry site near Sabac and a workshop will be held to analyse the data samples. Training will also be provided on data collection, criteria for determining sites to be investigated and the use of x-ray instruments to screen sites for contamination.

The field investigations will continue tomorrow with a visit to ‘Viskoza’ site. Both visits will see the experts meet with local authorities.

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).

The project 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. It follows years of past work carried out by UN Environment to remediate soil in the region polluted following conflict.

Improving environmental standards is a key area for Serbia's EU accession process. The project is also in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 15 ‘Life on land,’ which aims to halt and reverse land degradation.

For more information please click here or get in touch with isabelle.valentiny@unep.org.

UN entities involved in this initiative
UN Environment
United Nations Environment Programme