In Montenegro, environmental inspectors lack teeth to enforce the law


According to data obtained from the Judicial Council, since the start of 2016, 534 cases have been opened in Montenegrin courts on the basis of alleged criminal acts against the environment and spatial planning.

But 411 of them concerned illegal logging; only six concerned environmental pollution, none of which resulted in convictions.

Instead, the Environmental Inspection Department relies heavily on fines and misdemeanor prosecutions, which have far less damaging consequences for the culprit.

In the files of dozens of crime cases that BIRN / CIN-CG has obtained through access to information requests, the biggest offenders, besides Plantaze, are Gradir Montenegro, owner of the Suplja lead and zinc mine. stijena in Pljevlja, the WEG kolektor DOO Berane junkyard, the Toscelik Steel plant and the public electricity company Elektroprivreda.

In many cases, the problems identified by inspectors have not been resolved, regardless of the fines imposed.

In 2015 alone, Zarubica filed five criminal claims against Turkish company Toscelik, based in Niksic, Montenegro’s second largest city.

In March of the same year, Toscelik was ordered to obtain environmental consent from the Environmental Protection Agency for an environmental impact assessment for part of its operations. Failure to do so, Zarubica filed a misdemeanor complaint in June. Then again in October. It filed three more claims in December for other breaches, including one regarding how the plant handles waste.

Then three years later, in January 2018, Toscelik was again reprimanded for breaking the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Act, according to documents obtained by BIRN and CIN CG. The company ceased operations in 2021.

Likewise, between 2017 and 2019, WEG Kolektor was fined several times for its management of toxic waste, in particular for not having measured air pollution. In May 2017, inspectors ordered the company to dig a third well for the waste, only to find that two years later this was not the case.

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