Major clean-up to get underway at Czech Republic's Spolana plant
The Spolana chemical plant just north of Prague has become synonymous with environmental disaster here in the Czech Republic, with a number of high-profile leaks over the decades. Today the site is polluted by large amounts of dangerous chemicals and chemical wastes. But now a new project has just been launched to "depollute" it, with 35,000 tonnes of waste due to be dug up and treated on site by a group of specialists. By 2008 it should be what they call a "clean industrial site".
"Our project focuses on removing 35,000 tons of hazardous material. Of that, around 9,000 tonnes will be the demolished buildings themselves, contaminated walls and structure. The rest is contaminated underlying land that will be dug up. The entire process will take place under an enormous steel sarcophagus, itself connected to an adjacent work hall, pressurised so that no contaminants can escape. It is there that dioxins will be decontaminated or destroyed."
According to Petra Sokoloff, Sita Bohemia will keep to its agreement to eliminate the 35,000 tons of toxins by 2008 - although there are other toxins at the Spolana plant whose elimination this project will not oversee. So far, the company in cooperation with Spolana and local towns, has been working to fully inform the public about all important steps. Certainly most are happy with developments, all those who have lived in the "shadow" of Spolana for years or even decades, welcoming the elimination of threat.
"Of course the dioxins represent a potential danger: they are in the dust, the walls, the concrete inside. The building has been standing there, of no use to anyone, for fifty years and as long as it stands it represents a threat. Since it's been closed off, there has been no danger of the toxins escaping. But, if the building were, for instance, to collapse, then dioxins would be released. We saw the floods four years ago. This building, too, is just off the Elbe River. If we don't take care of it, anything could happen."