Waste management and problems of groundwater pollution in karst environments in the context of a post-conflict scenario: The case of Mostar (Bosnia Herzegovina)



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January 2009


The town of Mostar, in Bosnia Herzegovina, has been theatre of many tragic events during the wars in the Balkans, culminating with the destruction in November 1993 of the historical bridge over the Neretva River. Besides the problems related to destruction of the town, displacement of people, and the tensions among the different ethnic groups, Mostar has still to face many difficulties in the field of environmental management. It is located in southeastern Bosnia Herzegovina, not far from the boundary with Croatia, in a geological setting dominated by the presence of Mesozoic carbonate rocks. The area is intensely affected by karst processes, as shown by the many karst landforms, including poljes, blind valleys, dolines, and swallow holes. Limestones and dolomites are fractured and karstified, which makes the area extremely vulnerable to pollution, with particular regard to groundwater. This contribution examines the environmental hazard related to the mining area of Vihovići, some 500 m from downtown Mostar and 300 m from the Neretva River. In this area, the extraction of coal has been carried out for many years, and interrupted because of the war. Following the abandonment of the site, the mining area has become an uncontrolled dumpsite, where hundreds of tons of solid wastes have been discharged. Danger of pollution is further exacerbated by the proximity to the Neretva River, the main source of water supply for the town. After the war, division of the Mostar population into two main ethnic groups, Croats and Bosnian Muslims, complicated even more the waste disposal. This division had in fact repercussions also on the two firms that manage the collection and disposal of wastes, operating in different municipalities. As a result of this complex situation, and of the pollution problems, a water quality degradation was registered at Vihovići, as highlighted by soil and water analysis. This loss of quality could also have affected the waters in the Neretva, given the direct connection with the mining area, and mig


Calò, Fabiana, Parise, Mario

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Habitat International, Vol. 33, no. 1 (2009-01-01).