A huge blast in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sole oil refinery, situated in Brod, a city in the north of the country, destroyed part of the facility and shocked the citizens of both Bosnia and Croatia as it took place on Tuesday night.
Officially, the tragic incident happened at 21:30 p.m. local, Tuesday night. The explosion, as media reported, was so strong that people who live 20 kilometres away from Brod, in Derventa, heard it.
In the immediate moments after the blast, officials said that several employees had been injured but no death had occurred, however, authorities did confirm the death of one worker. All injured persons were transferred to the hospitals in Brod and Doboj.
Until nearly 13.00 p.m. local on Wednesday, there was no official report about the cause of this disaster, but, unofficially, there has been talks of “leaked” oil, out of a pipe, that was noticed moments before the explosion.
As the Refinery is on the border with Croatia, near the city of Slavonski Brod, citizens of both countries are worried about the extent of the environmental disaster. Some media reports in Croatia spoke of more than 50 deaths, adding that the smog will largely influence people’s health. As the day developed, however, the situation appeared far “better” than what the first estimates caused people to think of it.
Early on Wednesday morning, when firefighters extinguished the fire, the Republika Srpska police began its on site investigation. The management of Optima Group, the local company that runs the refinery on behalf of its majority owner, the Russian, state-owned Zarubezhneft company, confirmed the occurrence of the night blast, highlighting they would conduct their own investigation.
This Refinery has been a long-term problem to the Republika Srpska government since it is in an area without oil reserves. Indeed, quite comically, Bosnia and Herzegovina does have a refinery but no oil of its own; an absurdity that is a result of the former-Yugoslavia dissolution “era”.
Before the 1992-1995 war, this site, along with the Sisak Refinery in Croatia, processed raw oil from the Croatian fields. Due to the recent war, though, former-Ygoslav republics’ borders were turned into state borders, “leaving behind” one refinery on one side of them and another on the other side of the river Sava. It is necessary to stress that this facility was the bearer of the pre-war economy of two cities, naturally divided by a river. Many of the past employees lived in Croatia but every morning had to cross the bridge over Sava in order to get to work.
In the post-war years, the RS government made several attempts to sell the refinery to foreign investors but all of them failed. Sunsequently, Russian investors privatised it but, according to financial reports, the management is not very successful business wise.
On top of that, the refinery’s technology of the past that is still in use, causes severe environmental issues (identified severe pollution) to BiH and Croatia alike.
Recently, Several people from Slavonski Brod have organised rallies downtown to express their disagreement over the site’s usage and show their concerned over their children’s health. The problem had become such a thorn that Croatian president, Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, has asked the Russian president Vladimir Putin to help solve it.
In fact, this has been the major topic of discussions at the meeting between the RS president, Milorad Dodik, and Russia’s head, Vladimir Putin who met in Sochi ten days those living on both sides of the Sava.
The overall political handling has now given conspiracy theory lovers enough… arrows for their quivers so as to “construct” whatever plot they like…. / IBNA