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Chinese investments in a new coal power plant unit in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, could jeopardize local health standards and the environment. It is time for the Bosnian government to prioritise the health of its citizens.

According to the agreement signed between Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the Exim Bank of China, the loan of 613 million EUR will be repaid over 20 years by the residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, citizens will not only have to pay the loan: the new power plant unit will also have health-harming effects on the local population.

The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights its concerns for Bosnia and Herzegovina as one of the four countries in the world with the most polluted air, and the largest number of deaths caused by the huge impact of polluted air on human health.

During a two-day summit held by China with countries located in Central and Eastern Europe, which was officially opened on 26th November in Budapest, representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the loan agreement that will be used for building a so-called Unit 7 – 450 MW – coal power plant in the city of Tuzla.

Denis Žiško from the Center for Ecology and Energy of Tuzla said that “Tuzla has been one of the most polluted cities in Europe for years, and the signing of this loan agreement has been signed on the death penalty for the population of Tuzla Canton.”

Emissions of harmful gases from coal-fired power plants contribute to air pollution and are associated with unnecessarily high rates of premature death, chronic lung disease, heart disease and asthma. According to the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)’s calculations, seventeen people per year will experience premature deaths due to pollution from Unit 7 – Tuzla, which is equal to direct health costs between six and 16 million EUR.

Assuming that the activities at Unit 7 – 450 MW Tuzla will last for 45 years, this would mean that 765 people will experience premature death during the existence of this coal power plant station, which is equal to direct health costs between 270 and 720 million EUR. In addition to these facts, damages from the Tuzla power plant station should also include damage due to climate change and the health effects and costs associated with it.

Analyzes show a high level of air pollution that will dramatically affect the health of the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region,” says Vlatka Matković Puljić, Health and Environmental Officer for the Alliance for Health and Environment for the Balkans region – HEAL Balkans. “Investing in such projects means a threat to the environment whose reflections will affect the health of the people of this country, and cause, besides chronic pulmonary diseases, heart disease and asthma, numerous deaths. It is also very embarrassing that as the world economies focus on renewable energy, the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to produce energy-intensive technologies.’’

For more information please read ’’TECHNICAL REPORT – Health Impacts of Coal Fired Power Stations in the Western Balkans’’.

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