Assistance from international funds will be seeked for cleanup of mercury at OHIS plant in North Macedonia


The dangers of pollution with the mercury in the Electrolysis plant in OHIS will be overcome by seeking help from international funds. At the start of 2020, North Macedonia ratified the Minamata Convention for Mercury and as its member, it will have access to new sources of financing for the mercury cleanup.

Mercury is an extremely toxic metal that can bring serious consequences on people’s health. The Ministry of Environment informed that assets for the cleanup of the old hot-spots related to mercury pollution can be obtained, but also that this process can last for several years due to the complex procedures.

In the meantime, the activities for transportation of 11 toxic materials from the OHIS industrial complex continues through the project titled “Removal, Dislocation, Destruction or Neutralization of Chemical Matters”. So far, “Ekocentar 97” company has exported almost 64 tons of dangerous chemicals that contain methanol, acrylonitrile monomer, and unknown chemicals, to Valorek Services incinerator in Basel, Switzerland.

What remains is 14 tons of vinyl chloride monomer that will safely be treated in Germany and the remaining quantities of chemical substances of around 4.6 tons of initiators and 5.2 tons of chemicals with unknown chemical components. The outcome of the tender for a company that should neutralize the lindane is also awaited.

“Almost all stored obsolete chemicals that represent an enormous load for the state and a potential ecological risk have been removed by Ekocentar 97. Regarding the lindane cleanup, the tender procedure for the selection of the best bidder is underway in its final phase. When the tender procedure is over, the contractor will be instructed to obtain the necessary ecological licences and finally to start the cleanup of the lindane” informs the Ministry.

Among the last to be removed and among the most dangerous is the mercury from OHIS industrial complex which is threatening the health of the people of Skopje.

Adnan Kjahil, former chemical engineer in OHIS and coordinator of the Government’s working group for solving the problem with the lindane, said that the ecological condition of the surrounding settlements is dependent on cleaning of the chemicals at the OHIS plant.

“The ground around OHIS is completely contaminated with too many chemicals. Starting with mercury, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and many other chemicals. There are three depots with enormous quantities of lindane, and the conducted analyses show how they influence the air and the underground waters. In Ohis and the wider area, up to Aerodrom, Lisiche and Drachevo, the underground waters are polluted with lindane and according to the analyses conducted, the air in Gjorce Petrov contains lindane particles” said Kjahil.

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