The leafy vegetables, especially the parsley, in Veles, have the highest concentration of heavy metals. The soil analyses conducted in 2018 and 2019, show that the vegetables the people in Veles consume, have 1.5 times higher concentrations of lead above the approved limits and 2.5 times higher concentration of cadmium. This pollution is a result of the enormous quantities of heavy metals that are still stockpiled in the open, close to the former lead and zinc processing plant in Veles.
The black hill consisting of slag on a space of 33.000 square meters, with a weight of 1.7 million tons, is a result of decades-long pollution of the city resulting from this plant’s operation. Even though the lead and zinc processing plant has been out of function for the past two decades, it is still jeopardizing people of Veles health’s with this hill of slag. The slagcontains 10% zinc, 1 % lead including other dangerous metalsm like cadmium, copper, arson, indium, thallium that are freely dispersed by the wind. They pollute the air and the soil and are depositing in the dust at the homes in the city.
The civic organization Vila Zora’s activists warn that the soil is polluted in a radius of 20 km, and the fields where vegetables are grown are located in the vicinity of slag deposits.
“The highest concentration of heavy metals was noticed among the leafy greens while the levels among tomatoes and peppers are getting decreased. Among the apples and grapes, due to their long root systems are at the normal levels” inform Vila Zora.
According to the analyses conducted in Veles as part of the “Let’s protect the soil” project, financed by USAID, the presence of heavy metals in the soil after its decontamination with rapeseed, at the depth of 20 cm has increased by 0.5 times, while at depth of 20 to 40 cm, the concentrations in the soil have decreased by 3.5 times. The fact is that the soil’s top layer wasn’t decontaminated but it was contaminated even more. The reason for the increased contamination after decontamination, according to environmentalists, lies in the dust full of heavy metals. The high concentrations of heavy metals in the air and the soil in Veles regardless if the lead and zinc works functioned or not, are proven by the analyses conducted six years ago by professor Trajče Stafilov from the Chemistry Institute. The examinations of dust were conducted in three zones, at the houses in Veles, Bashino Selo and the villages in the mountainous area southwest of Veles, when high concentrations of arson, cadmium, zinc, lead, indium and antimony were confirmed.