From: Alice Taylor
Durres Continues Battle with Waste Amid Impending Incinerator Concession

Waste management in Durrëss continues to cause problems for residents of the area.

At the Life, Animals and People stray dog shelter in Shkozet, they have been grappling with the waste issue for over a year. The space was given to the NGO by the Municipality of Durres in 2018 so they could set up and operate the shelter. Having poured more than EUR 6,000 into the facility, they are struggling to continue operations.

In October 2020, they first raised the alarm over the situation at the shelter. With a contract in place stating that the Municipality was obliged to keep it safe, clean and supplied with water and electricity, the volunteers were concerned that the Municipality were not keeping their side of the deal.

Each day, Municipality vehicles would turn up to dump trash at the site. Some was later transferred to other sites, but much was left behind. This posed a risk to the safety of not just the volunteers but the animals as well.

The site is used to house more than 25 dogs before they find a home. Over the last two and a half years, the NGO has taken care of more than 600 strays. Many are taken to Europe and rehomed into families, others are rehomed locally.

Because of the situation with the waste, the dogs are confined to a pen and unable to run around. The volunteers said this impacts their behavior, making them frustrated.

Then in March, the volunteers said the situation was spiraling out of control. More and more rubbish was being dumped on site.

The NGO said the Municipality has promised to stop using it for dumping and that they will clean it up, but in the last year, this has not happened.  They are also concerned about the impact of the rubbish on the people living in the area.

“We have spent thousands on trying to make this place suitable for the animals but the Municipality are just using it as a temporary landfill. They keep promising to fix it, but nothing happens,” they told Exit.

“They say they don’t have another solution and have nowhere to put the waste,” they added.

Exit contacted the Municipality to ask about the situation and query whether they are allowed to dump waste on the site but received no reply.

Then in mid-June, the NGO provided photos showing that the situation had escalated even further. The amount of rubbish deposited at the site had reached the highest proportions to date, piled up as high as the perimeter wall. A mixture of household and business waste, volunteers said the smell made it impossible to work there.

Volunteers have been unable to attend the site as due to the hot weather, the gasses and odour released by the waste have become hazardous. Calls on the Municipality for answers, or to take action have been ignored.

One month after the 26 November 2019 earthquake, the Albanian government closed the Porto Romano landfill in Durres. They then gave a tender worth EUR 15 million to a De Mare and Victoria Invest International joint venture to turn the landfill into a park. The tender has been under investigation by SPAK since 2020 for allegedly violating the principles of competition.

Additionally, three  controversial waste incinerators were built through public-private partnerships in Tirana, Fier, and Elbasan.

Following the 2019 decision to close the landfill, the municipality of Durrës soon found itself unable to get rid of its waste throughout the city. The stench of waste piling up the streets added to the pain and distress from the earthquake, and the anxiety of an unprecedented pandemic.

In June 2020, Prime Minister Edi Rama said he had successfully pressured the municipality to enter a deal with Tirana incinerator concession holder Integrated Energy B.V SPV.

The municipality of Durres adopted a government proposal on June 10 for the city’s waste to be incinerated for €60 million for the next 20 years. In addition, it asked the government to subsidize the cost for the next 10 years, roughly €30 million. 

Meanwhile, at the dog shelter, the Municipality came to collect the trash yesterday. Most likely due to the forthcoming deal.

You can read more on the waste crisis and the waste incineration deal here.