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Asbestos contamination from Salonit-Vranjic, Croatia

The asbestos-containing material producing factory Salonit was closed in 2006. However, only part of its workers managed to receive pension rights and compensation for health impacts cause by occupational exposure to asbestos.


The Salonit Company was a state owned factory located in the Croatian town of Vranjic, near Split - the second largest city of Croatia. The company had been producing construction materials that contained asbestos since the 1920s. By the end of the 1990s, 250 of Salonit’s workers and a few hundred of Vranjić’s citizens were officially diagnosed with asbestos disease (an incurable lung disease).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Asbestos contamination from Salonit-Vranjic, Croatia
State or province:Split-Dalmatian County
Location of conflict:Vranjic
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Mineral processing
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Manufacturing activities
Specific commodities:Asbestos
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Between 1970 and 1990, the Salonit factory handled up to 25,000 tones of asbestos annually.

Level of Investment:4,500,000 (costs of clean-up)
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:1,100
Start of the conflict:1998
Company names or state enterprises:Tvornica Salonit from Croatia - The polluter
IGH company, Croatia - Company in charge of the cleanup of the contaminated areas
Relevant government actors:The Croatian Parliament; The Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection of the Republic of Croatia; The Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning of the Republic of Croatia
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Udruga oboljelih od azbestoze, Vranjic; Udruga Barbarinac; Eko Kvarner; Udruga ‘Biglovi azbesta’
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Other Environmental impactsIn April 2007, the concentration of asbestos in the air was three times higher than allowed. Citizents of Vranjic were not informed.
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Infectious diseases, Accidents, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Other Health impactsAsbestos disease, lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Development of alternatives:The impacted stakeholders including former employees, citizens and NGOs demand clean-up of the location contaminated by asbestos in accordance to EU regulations, as well as compensation and resolving the retirement status of sick workers.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Many citizens of Vranjic claimed that cleanup and sanitation of contaminated areas had not been done correctly. Independent studies show that high presence of asbestos in the air continues. Furthermore, the compensation and retirement status of former employees is not resolved.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Rješenje o neprihvaćanju prijedloga za pokretanje postupka za ocjenu saglasnosti s Ustavom Zakona o obeštećenju radnika trgovačkog društva Salonit d.d. u stečaju Vranjic ("Narodne novine" broj 84/11).
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ILO website

Observation (CEACR) - adopted 2015, published 105th ILC session (2016)

Asbestos Convention, 1986 (No. 162) - Croatia (Ratification: 1991)
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References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Incidence and prevalence of asbestos-related diseases in Croatia
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Increasing of malignant pleural mesothelioma: burning issue in Split-Dalmatian County, Croatia.
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

EU Countries Sell Banned Asbestos to Croatia
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Azbest iz Vranjica ubija Split i Brač
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Vranjic se guši u azbestu
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Salonit: Mladineo nije uspio, radnici nastavljaju štrajk glađu
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Facts on Asbestos in Croatia
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Zeleni iz Europe o sanaciji azbesta u Vranjicu: Ovako nešto sam očekivao u Sibiru, a ne u Hrvatskoj...
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Vranjic: Alarmantno stanje zbog azbesta
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Započela sanacija azbesta na nogometnom igralištu u Vranjicu
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'Radnici Salonita opet su izigrani, mafija ima svoju državu'
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Zašto svi oboljeli od azbestoze nisu jednaki? "Zakon štiti samo povlaštenu skupinu ljudi!"
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VIDEO, FOTO: Radnici Salonita 'polugom pravde' razvalili ulaz i zauzeli tvornicu
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Azbest: Tihi ubojica
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Name of people who dieded and suffer of the ‘asbestos desies’
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Sanacija azbesta u Vranjicu
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Štetno djelovanje tvornice Salonit u Vranjicu
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Other documents

The protest of the former employees and citizens of Vranjic against Salonit company The signs read “Asbestos is still killing” and “The Government is responsible”
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Asbestos depot in Salonit factory Building materials containing asbestos stored in the depot of Salonit company in Vranjic
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Meta information
Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update05/05/2016
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