Bulgaria gets new warning due to scandalous air pollution in Sofia and elsewhere

Written by on October 13, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria gets new warning due to scandalous air pollution in Sofia and elsewhere

The air in Sofia is still toxic. In fact, the Bulgarian capital is more polluted than most other regions in Europe, and among the 14 most polluted zones on the continent, according to the European Commission’s Environment Directorate, which provided data during a two-day conference on clean air in Sofia. The latter will end today.

According to the data, six regions in Bulgaria have a major air pollution problem. Sofia is at the top of the list. During the conference, George Kremlis from the Environment Directorate urged Bulgaria to mobilize efforts in order to tackle its air pollution problem. Otherwise, it would suffer sanctions.

This is not the first warning Bulgaria got. In April, the European Court of Justice found Bulgaria guilty of exceeding the E.U. norms on fine particulate matter on the territory of the whole country, systematically and constantly. The court case had been initiated by the European Commission.

In Bulgaria, 188 per 100,000 inhabitants died as a result of the scandalous air pollution in 2014. This is the largest number of air pollution related deaths in Europe, by far. Breathing in Bulgaria, above all in Sofia, is unhealthy, especially in winter. The situation in neighbouring countries is rather bad as well, but far better than in Bulgaria.

The main problems in Sofia and other Bulgarian regions:

> Too much particulate matter is floating through the air and inhaled by inhabitants.

> The carbon monoxide value is far above the norm.

Old vehicles with gasoline engines, old Diesel engines and the use of solid fuels for heating are the three main sources for the dangerous pollution in Bulgaria.

Yordanka Fandakova, the Mayor of Sofia, told Bulgarian-language media, the problem was already dealt with and the tendency was positive. According to the mayor, the air quality in Sofia has improved since 2011. She mentioned the ongoing modernisation of the city’s bus fleet. Fandakova also wants a facility which would turn waste into warmth and electricity for 70,000 households.

Some critics believe such a facility would do more harm than good. NGOs keep on saying the actions taken by Sofia Municipality did not go far enough. According to them, far more people have to be motivated to use Sofia’s public transport, which would have to be improved substantially.

One of the ideas discussed is a new vehicle tax system, which would charge owners of vehicles with high emissions a lot more than those driving greener cars.

At the conference on air quality in Sofia, it will be all about the so-called Sofia Urban Challenge today: A total of 15 European companies will present possible solutions for cleaner air.

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com