Trash fills Bosnia river faster than workers can pull it out

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This aerial photo shows a dam garbage floating in the Drina river near Visegrad, eastern Bosnia, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Environmental activists in Bosnia are warning that tons of garbage floating down the Balkan country's rivers are endangering the local ecosystem and people's health. The Drina River has been covered for weeks with trash that has piled up faster than the authorities can clear it out. (AP Photo/Kemal Softic)

VISEGRAD – VISEGRAD, Bosnia-Environmental activists in Bosnia are warning that tons of garbage floating down the Balkan country’s rivers are endangering the local ecosystem and people’s health.

The Drina River, located on the border between Bosnia and Serbia, has been covered for weeks with trash that has piled up faster than the authorities can clear it out.

Weeks of wet winter weather that swelled the Drina and its tributaries pulled plastic bottles, rusty barrels, used tires, old furniture and other rubbish into the water.

Near the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad, islands of garbage can be seen floating on the emerald-colored water as they advance toward the dam of the local hydroelectric power plant.

Activists say the situation is similar for miles up and downstream from Visegrad.

“This is a problem of huge proportions,” warned Dejan Furtula of the local environmental group Eko Centar Visegrad. “I am appealing on all institutions and everyone who can help to join the (clearing) process.”

Local authorities have been working to remove the garbage, but more trash is constantly arriving from upstream, carried also by the Drina's tributaries in Serbia and Montenegro. The waste eventually piles up by the Visegrad dam. The 346-kilometer long (215-mile-long) Drina later flows into the Sava River.

Furtula said that micro plastics and toxins from the garbage end up in the food chain, threatening both wildlife and humans.