Who will be held responsible if Bulgarian children in Brestovitsa suffer irreversible damage to their health?

Who will be held responsible if Bulgarian children in Brestovitsa suffer irreversible damage to their health?
Опубликовано: Monday, 20 May 2024 08:35

It is clear that Bulgaria, a member state of the EU and the UN, is in serious violation of European and International Human Rights by not providing clean drinking water — writes Lazar Bakalov ([email protected])

During 2018-2019, the population of Brestovitsa (a village in Rodopi municipality with almost 4000 inhabitants) noticed changes in the colour and taste of water intended for human consumption. The relevant authorities reject these assumptions and guarantee that Brestovitsa’s drinking water meets all national, European and international health standards.

But in February 2020 the truth came to light, with the first official result that manganese levels were well above the EU limits of 50 mg/l or 0.05 mg/dm³. After several water tests, the critical results reached the level of 6.499 mg/l. All private, municipal and national institutions responsible for the quality of drinking water in Brestovitsa have been informed in order to take immediate measures to identify the causes and find solutions.

A partial state of emergency was declared in February 2021, with a decree that the water cannot be used for drinking purposes, but it is permitted for domestic use.

In August 2021, the results of a report by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences proved that such high levels of manganese in Brestovitsa’s drinking water for domestic use have extremely serious consequences for the health of consumers, being the most harmful for children. The report concludes that immediate action must be taken as the population is at serious health risk!

Manganese enters the human body through various organs, accumulates and cannot be removed in any way. Excessive amounts cause irreversible neurological problems in infants and children. These problems may include language and memory difficulties, lower IQ, lack of coordination, etc. The children of Brestovitsa have been at extreme health risk for years, which can be interpreted as a threat of genocide! Since 2020, the population of Brestovitsa has received several commitments from the relevant institutions to find quick solutions and financial resources for these solutions. After years of hesitation, a solution was finally found, but 90% of the financing is still missing. Belief in the quality of Bulgarian institutions has completely disappeared! The local and national authorities still refuse to answer the question of who is responsible for contaminating Brestovitsa’s drinking water and putting 1000 children at such risk, although reports drawn up to investigate the case name the likely culprit. Due to the lack of a recognized perpetrator, the village’s residents are deprived of the protection of their human rights. Instead of this, lawsuits are filed in court against people who demanded an investigation to clarify the causes of water pollution by protecting the democratic rights of villagers and, above all, children’s rights to a healthy environment and clean drinking water.

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All this causes many questions that Bulgaria will have to answer!

What were Bulgaria’s priorities during all this time and why did everything drag on over the years? Why has only 10% of the funding been secured so far, and how long will the authorities prioritize other projects and push these children-at-risk into the background? What is more important than the lives of children?

Why does the municipality of Rodopi invest years in entertainment, parks and road maintenance in other villages, while these 1000 children wait four years despite the risk to their health? Will it create an ugly sight if there are playgrounds in Brestovitsa but no children to play on them?

Why has such a well-known problem not been solved for four years now, and how many years do the Bulgarian authorities consider a reasonable timeframe for solving a problem that endangers children’s health on a daily basis? How should the expression “as soon as possible” be interpreted and does this correspond to the deadlines for the implementation of the decision for which sufficient resources have not yet been secured?

Is it fair that affected residents have to pay for contaminated drinking water all these years, and does this decision comply with European consumer protection standards?

When will this hell end and will there be lasting harm to the children who are exposed to this risk for years?

Who will be held responsible if tomorrow all children in Brestovitsa suffer irreversible damage to their health?

How is it possible that an EU and UN member state is trampling on civil rights so severely and putting almost 1,000 children in extreme danger for such a long period of time, and when will the European and international authorities intervene?

Due to the loss of confidence in the priorities of the local and national administration, the citizens of Brestovitsa continue their fight to protect their rights and solve the case, taking it this time beyond the country’s borders. On 11.05.2024, Lazar Bakalov submitted an official complaint to the European Commission based on all the necessary documents provided by the "Life for Brestovitsa" association. The request is to handle the case at the European level ASAP and refer it to a European court. The United Nations Commission, the International Health Organization and other international bodies will also be notified in the coming days if Bulgaria does not offer fast satisfactory solutions.

The residents of Brestovitsa are calling on Europe for support in this battle endangering the health of their children! [email protected]

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