National Hazardous Waste Treatment Center, Bulgaria


The attempts of the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water to construct a centralised facility for managing hazardous wastes - the National waste treatment center - date back to 2000. The selected site is located in the Stara Zagora region, which is heavily polluted by intensive industrial activities: coal mining and three coal-fired power plants.

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Basic Data
NameNational Hazardous Waste Treatment Center, Bulgaria
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesHazardous Waste, Toxic Waste
Industrial waste
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe project included a 15 000 tonnes/year incinerator (plus an additional 30 000 tonnes/year incinerator planned for 2015), a solidification facility, a physical-chemical Treatment facility, a mercury recycling facility, a hazardous waste landfill at the NHWC, a 5.000 tonnes/year asbestos landfill, auxiliary buildings and facilities – all to be sited in Gledachevo, and an additional regional hazardous waste landfill to be located in the Sofia region.

Industrial hazardous waste in Bulgaria between 2000-2009 averages some 706000 tonnes annually and is mostly landfilled. Thirty enterprises account for over 90% of the total industrial hazardous waste generated, with metallurgical industry as the leading generator, followed by the cement, pharmaceutical and petrol industries, and including also some waste water treatment plants and a factory producing military equipment and arms Overall, the potentially affected population includes 21,745 people living in settlements within 10 km from the project site. The majority of the population in Radnevo Municipality in 2002 is Bulgarian (86%), with some Roma (7% ) and Turks (5%). Disabilities of children aged under 16 appear to be the highest in the country (6.4 in 1000, the national average is 3.3 in 1000 for 2009).Child mortality rates are also higher than the national average. [1]
Project Area (in hectares)130000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date05/2001
Company Names or State EnterprisesFichtner GmbH & Co. KG from Germany
Chemcontrol from Denmark - These two consultant companies were responsible for project feasibility studies, the application form and conceptual design.
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment and Water (Bulgaria): MOEW was hoping to fund the project using a 50% grant from the European Unions Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession , combined with an EIB loan as matching funding.
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Investment Bank (EIB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEnvironmental Association Za Zemiata, United Initiative Committee of the affected villages, Civic Union - Stara Zagora, CEE Bankwatch
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingArtisanal miners
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The facility was not built at the end
Sources and Materials

[1] Ejolt report on Waste Conflicts
[click to view]

[1] Ejolt report on Waste Conflicts
[click to view]

National Hazardous Waste in Bulgaria Report
[click to view]


Local communities in Bulgaria reject dubious National Hazardous Waste Treatment Centre project
[click to view]

bulgaria national haz waste treatment english.pdf
[click to view]

Za Zemiata. National Hazardous Waste Treatment Centre

Meta Information
ContributorEvgenia Tasheva
Last update08/01/2017