Serbia started cleaning up the floating trash in the Potpecko lake, a reservoir on the Lim River. The lake was created by a dam for hydroelectricity purposes.
According to environmental activists, the lake is filled with 20,000 cubic meters of plastic from unregulated dumps along the river’s banks in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia.
In Priboj, environmental activist Slavisa Lakovic said the constant pollution is harming wildlife and fish in the lake.
“Piling up trash affects the quality of water and reduces the quantity of oxygen in it … animals are coming to the banks to search through trash,” he told Reuters.
As the garbage also threatened the functioning of a hydroelectric plant, authorities in Belgrade ordered an immediate clean-up.
Since Friday, two ships have been collecting up to 100 cubic meters of plastic and other trash daily.
“This problem is years old, and it is difficult to say who is responsible,” Dragan Ljeljen, an official from the nearby town of Priboj, told Reuters. From its source, the Lim river flows through three countries.
To stop the problem, Serbia’s Environment Minister, Irena Vujovic, and officials from Montenegro and Bosnia agreed on Monday to coordinate efforts to prevent further pollution.