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Montenegro’s Environmental Inspectors Lack the Teeth to Enforce Law

Montenegro’s Environmental Inspectors Lack the Teeth to Enforce Law

According to the Judicial Council data, 534 cases were opened in Montenegrin courts since 2016 on the basis of alleged crimes against the environment or spatial planning.

411 of those were for illegal wood-cutting. Sixteen were for environmental pollution. None of these cases resulted in convictions.

Instead, the Department for Environmental Inspection relies heavily upon fines and misdemeanour procedures, which have far less severe consequences for the guilty party.

According to BIRN/CIN CG, there are dozens of misdemeanour records that were obtained through Freedom of Information requests. The biggest violators, apart from Plantaze, are Gradir Montenegro who is the owner of the Suplja stijena zinc and lead mine in Pljevlja and scrapyard WEG kolektor D.O.O. Berane, Toscelik Steel, and Elektroprivreda, a state-owned electricity company.

Many times, inspectors did not find the problem and imposed fines.

Zarubica filed five misdemeanor complaints against Turkish-owned Toscelik in 2015, which is located in Montenegro’s second city of Niksic.

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Toscelik was given an order in March to obtain environmental consent by the Agency for Environmental Protection for a part of its operations. Zarubica filed misdemeanour charges in June when it failed to comply. In October, she filed another misdemeanour proceeding. In December, she filed three more complaints regarding other deficiencies, including one about the factory’s handling of waste.

Three years later, Toscelik was reprimanded for violating the law regarding integrated pollution prevention and controls, according to documents obtained from BIRN/CIN CG. In 2021, the company ceased to exist.

WEG Kolektor was also repeatedly fined between 2017-2019 for improper handling of toxic materials, including failing to measure the pollution in the atmosphere. In May 2017, inspectors ordered WEG Kolektor to dig a third waste well, but it was discovered two years later.

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