ZAGREB, March 31, 2018 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Slavonski Brod on Saturday that everything would be done to connect as soon as possible the water supply system of the eastern city, whose residents are without drinking water, to the water supply plant in Sikirevci.
The Environmental Protection and Energy Ministry will issue the necessary permits and the necessary works will be stepped up to connect the two water supply systems, Plenković said after a meeting of the Slavonski Brod and Brod-Posavina County civil protection, convened over the pollution of the town’s water supply plant.
The two water supply systems are expected to be connected in 10 to 15 days. Plenković said. About 150 metres of infrastructure had to be built to connect the Sikirevci and Slavonski Brod water supply systems. He thanked all the services that were doing their best in handling the situation in the Slavonski Brod area, saying the ecological incident would be examined in detail.
The people of Slavonski Brod and the surrounding municipalities who get water from the local supply plant were left without drinking water today as it was established that it is polluted with hydrocarbons and cannot be used even after being boiled.
Mayor Mirko Duspara has linked the water pollution to Wednesday’s oil product leakage during the testing of a pipeline between the oil refinery in Bosanski Brod, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Slobodnica location.
The testing was done by the Crodux oil product company, which said today the water pollution in Slavonski Brod could not be linked to the spilling of 150-200 litres of gasoline during the pipeline testing because the ecological incident occurred at Slobodnica, which is 2.8-5 km from the eastern town’s water supply plant. Duspara said today he had pressed charges against the company and that it was up to the police to establish what happened.
Based on expert analysis so far, it has been concluded the water should not be used for drinking or cooking at the moment, but can be used for personal hygiene, Plenković said after the meeting, adding that the water analysis would continue in Osijek and Zagreb.
The civil defence meeting was attended by Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, Environmental Protection and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić and Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić.
Tank trucks from the commodity stockpiles have been bringing water to the people of Slavonski Brod today and Plenković said the army would deliver another six or seven. Drinking water will be systematically delivered as long as necessary until clean and drinking water is ensured through the supply system, he added.
Plenković said the government delegation was informed of the pollution of the Jelas water supply plant and that they would wait for the expert findings of a probe into the causes. He went on to say that the works on the gas pipeline were a result of a government arrangement with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosanski Brod refinery. Supplying the refinery with gas fuel is expected to step up its modernisation and prevent air pollution in Slavonski Brod, which is across the Sava river from the refinery.
Plenković said there were “two fundamental tasks” at the moment, resolving the drinking water situation and then finding a comprehensive solution to prevent air pollution. He asked the local population to be patient and understanding, regretting that there was no drinking water on the eve of Easter and saying that all the relevant services will make every effort to resolve the problem quickly and in a sustainable and systematic fashion.
Asked by the press why should people believe him given that air in Slavonski Brod has been polluted for years, Plenković said his was the first government that had found a lasting solution by signing a memorandum with the Bosnian side “because we are concerned about the health of our fellow citizens in Slavonski Brod.”
Reporters reminded him that Russia’s ambassador to Croatia had said the project to supply the Bosanski Brod refinery with gas might not be carried out. “Some other decisions relating to the wider context of the relations with the Russian Federation have nothing to do with this agreement that was reached earlier. It is firm, essential and clear, and it will be carried out,” he said.
Asked to comment on Crodux’s denial of any responsibility for the water pollution, Plenković said it was undeniable that an ecological incident had occurred outside Slavonski Brod and that it was necessary to investigate the cause of the pollution of the water wells at the Jelas plant. He said that at this time no one could confirm that there was a connection and that one should wait for the findings of additional water analyses.
Brod-Posavina County head Danijel Marušić appealed on citizens to be patient. He said about 90,000 people were supplied with water from the Slavonski Brod plant and that neighbouring towns and counties had offered to help with drinking water.