Bulgarian residents blockade landfill in the Suhodol neighborhood of Sofia, 2005

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Timing
Time Period:  
7 January
2005
to
8 July
2005
Location and Goals
Country: 
Bulgaria
Location City/State/Province: 
Suhodol, Sofia
Location Description: 
At Sofia's only landfill
Goals: 
To close the landfill outside the Suhodol neighborhood of Sofia
 

Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, had only one landfill, which was 500 meters from the Suhodol neighborhood. The residents of Suhodol claimed that the landfill polluted the area and was a danger to the health of their children. In 2001, the mayor of Sofia promised to close the landfill by the end of 2004.

When the city failed to uphold this promise, the residents of Suhodol began to block garbage trucks from entering the landfill on Thursday, 7 January 2005. The capital had no other waste disposal site so garbage collection came to a halt. Dumpsters and garbage cans overflowed in Sophia filling the streets with the smell of rotting trash and building concern for a potential public health crisis.

On the next Thursday, the municipal council of Sophia agreed to close the landfill by September in an emergency meeting, and the mayor began efforts to raise money to build a new waste management facility. Protestors shouted down the mayor as he tried to tell them about is plans to build a recycling plant. By this point the protestors had blocked 200 garbage trucks carrying 4,000 tons of waste.

On 14 January, protestors lifted the seven-day blockade after reaching an agreement with the mayor that only hard waste would be dumped in the landfill after June, and the landfill would be closed in September at the latest.

When the city failed to construct a new garbage storage facility in time for the June 30th deadline due to protest at construction sites of replacement landfills, residents of Suhodol again blockaded the city landfill. The mayor threatened to send the police if the protestors continued their blockade through Monday, 4 July. The city claimed they needed only one week to install garbage-packing machinery. Protestors said they would lift the blockade when the city began installation.

On 4 July, the police refused to disperse the blockade. Bulgaria’s head of police Bokio Borisov stated, "I cannot ask policemen to use violence against people who are defending their rights. The task of the police is not to correct the mistakes of the municipal authorities.”

On 5 July, the city of Sofia declared a state of epidemic crisis for fear of spread of Hepatitis A, gastroenteritis, or salmonella due to the 30˚C (86˚F) weather. The city began to spray garbage in the city with disinfectants

On 7 July, the police agreed to escort garbage trucks and their drivers to the landfill, but not to use violent force against the protesters.

Hundreds of police officers in anti-riot gear arrived at the Suhodol landfill on the morning of 8 July and dispersed the blockade allowing one hundred garbage trucks to dump in the landfill by 9:00. There were no serious injuries in the action. Two police officers were lightly injured as they forced through the blockade. Protestors said some demonstrators had received minor wounds after police beat them with batons. The police action successfully ended the blockade.

The landfill was closed in October, and Sophia’s waste was redirected to balling facilities in the Trebich, Kremikovtsi, and Novi Iskar neighborhoods. City officials voted to reopen the Sudohol landfill in 2007.

Research Notes
Influences: 

Residents living near proposed replacement landfill sites protested. (2)

Sources: 
Waste management in Europe: main problems and best practices.” Schneider, Jürgen, et al. Policy Department C: Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs. 2011. Accessed: 14 March 2013. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/peti/studiesdownload.html?languageDocument=EN&file=44111

"EU Environmental Commissioner Inquires into Sofia's Garbage Depot." EASTBUSINESS.ORG. (December 14, 2005 Wednesday 7:23 AM (Central European Time) ): 217 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/14.

"Anti-riot police storm Sofia's garbage blockade, few injuries reported." AP Worldstream. (July 8, 2005 Friday ): 339 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/14.

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"Fear of infection as Sofia's garbage strike leaves city in a mess." Agence France Presse -- English. (January 13, 2005 Thursday 5:52 PM GMT ): 470 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/14.

"Bulgarian capital wakes up in rubbish after civil protests close waste dump." Agence France Presse -- English. (January 11, 2005 Tuesday 12:13 PM GMT ): 245 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/14.

"Uncollected garbage threatens to cause epidemic in Bulgarian capital." Associated Press Worldstream. (January 11, 2005 Tuesday ): 290 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/14.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Jonathan White, 14/03/2013