A nuclear landfill in Trgovska gora would put at risk all the Una river basin

The Republics of Slovenia and Croatia are the owners of the Krško nuclear power plant (50:50), which will operate until 2043. The power plant is located on the border between Slovenia and Croatia on Vrbina site. All radioactive waste generated by the operation of the nuclear power plant, as well as the one that will be produced during its decommissioning, is in 50:50 ownership of the two states and they need to find a common solution for its disposal. Slovenia proposed to dispose the waste at the place of its origin (territorially it would be in Slovenia), while Croatia continually changed its demands, and by that avoiding common solution. For a long time, Croatia was claiming that joint disposal with Slovenia was too expensive, and when Slovenia started to make inexpensive and acceptable offers Croatian officials changed the story. Then Croatia demanded to store radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel and other waste material in one place.

The main catch is that waste material include not only those from the Krško nuclear power plant, but from all over Croatia. Slovenia does not accept all waste material from Croatia, so Croatia is pushing for the construction of its own landfill. 

The story that Croatia needs to build its landfill in Trgovska Gora starts in 1999 when it emerged in public. From then protests and petitions (13000+ signatures) are being organized. Because Trgovska Gora located at the border of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) it triggered the revolt of the population on both sides of the border.

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Manure pollution from the Osona and Lluçanès springs in 2020

The Grup de Defensa del Ter has been analysing the nitrate concentration in springs located in the counties of Osona and Lluçanès for 19 years and this year the historical record for nitrate concentration was broken in one of these springs. The analysis was made possible thanks to 53 volunteers from the Grup de Defensa del Ter who visited 164 springs, 13 of which were not flowing. The average nitrate concentration was 72 mg/l, while the WHO has set the limit for the drinking water purification at a nitrate concentration of 50 mg/l. The average value this year is slightly lower than in 2019, which was 76 mg/l, although the difference is not significant enough to assume that there has been a real decrease in pollution. We still have almost half of the contaminated springs, about 45%.

The Gana spring in Calldetenes with 492.2 mg/l of nitrates was the most polluted this year, beating the historical record since the beginning of the analyses in 2002, followed by two springs usually on the podium, the Gallisans spring in Santa Cecília de Voltregà, with 465.8 mg/l, and in third place, the Cassanell spring in Taradell, with 344.80 mg/l. Last year, the first prize was awarded to the latter source, with 456.8 mg/l. This year, however, the Gana spring is at nearly 500 mg/l of nitrate, a value 10 times higher than what the WHO allows for the drinking water purification. This is undoubtedly the highest value we have found in 19 years of source analysis.

Read more in Catalan on the website of the Grup de Defensa del Ter

Overview of the anti-water privatisation campaign in Ireland

In her 2005 book Earth Democracy Dr Vandana Shiva said, "Without water democracy, there can be no living democracy." We see this sentiment echoed in water struggles all across the planet. Where citizens fight against water privatisation, against water poverty and for water justice, a common theme emerges, crisis's of democracy itself." Ireland is no different.

Background

In 1985 the Government introduced a local-authority domestic-service levy. This included a charge for household waste and domestic water. Attempts by local authorities to reintroduce water charges were met with fierce opposition. There were public protests, a non-payment campaign, and many of those who refused to pay were jailed. In some parts of the country, groups of citizens organised to reconnect supplies where water supply was cut off for non-payment. The opposition continued and in 1996 domestic water charges were abolished entirely, and it was decided that funding for water services was to come from general taxation with £50 million to be ringfenced from motor tax for water services.

In the following years, investment in water services was minimal, and between 2008 and 2013 the Irish Government reduced water funding by 65 %.

Prior to the financial crash, Ireland had 34 local authorities (Municipalities) with responsibility for providing water services. In 2009, the then-Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government announced that water charges were to be reintroduced. They claimed the water infrastructure was in dire need of upgrading and domestic water charging would have to recommence. They contended that domestic charges would fund investment and encourage water conservation.

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Water privatisation? Finland says no!

In early January 2020, the municipality of Jyväskylä, located in the Central Finland Region, announced its intention to part-privatise between 30 and 40 per cent of its multi-utility company Alva, including water, energy and heating. Bringing in expertise from the private sector would better equip the company to tackle current market challenges, the municipality stated. Moreover, mirroring water privatisation arguments elsewhere, privatisation was said to promise increased efficiency and lower consumer prices. However, the announcement led to an immediate public outcry. Several critical opinion pieces appeared in various Finnish daily newspapers, and activists from the Left Alliance party launched a public petition to push the Finnish parliament into action. On 10 February, Jyväskylä announced that it had withdrawn its proposal. In this post, Dominika Baczynska Kimberley and Andreas Bieler trace the dynamics underlying this quick turnaround.

It all started with a misunderstanding. Misleading headlines in Finnish daily newspapers, which became further amplified via social media, suggested that the municipality planned to sell 100 per cent of its water services company. Many drew an immediate parallel to state-owned energy company Fortum’s sale in 2014 of its energy network to Caruna—a large private company with foreign shareholders—which had resulted in drastic increases in electricity transmission prices.

The common consensus was that when it comes to natural monopolies such as water, the public ought to retain ownership of infrastructure rather than lose control to large private—and potentially foreign—companies. Commentators, moreover, pointed to similar water privatisation experiences in the Estonian city of Tallinn in 2001, when a 50.4 per cent sale of water was made. Despite claims of increased efficiency and lower prices, the deal led not only to enormous corporate profits for foreign shareholders and higher prices for consumers (which only went down last year), but also to significant layoffs, as a third of the staff was made redundant and senior management replaced by British executives.

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Metropolitan Area of Barcelona: Agreement for a public and democratic water system

Barcelona´s city growth obliged it to expand beyond its own walls and expand onto the Eixample district. Since then, the management of water resources has mainly been in private hands and has grown in this way throughout the majority of towns and cities of the larger Metropolitan Area. Despite this fact, in 2010 a Barcelona court ruled that there was no public contracting situation to regulate this management. Two years on in 2012 the government of Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) created a mixed company as partners with Sociedad General de Agua de Barcelona (AGBAR group) to manage the urban water cycle of supply and sanitation.

In 2016, the mixed partnership was cancelled by the Supreme Court of Catalonia (TSJC) due to various irregularities: there had been no reasoning as to why the mixed partnership was the better option, besides the contract was ´passed on´ -conceded without public tender- the private part of the mixed venture, and finally, the valuation of assets was tipped very obviously in AGBAR’s favor. The court ruling by the TSJC will be considered in the next months by the Supreme Court of Spain, which is under the obligation of reaching a final verdict. If this verdict rules against the mixed company, this would make a perfect opportunity to make the water system public again for the communities of AMB.

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