A River of Garbage
News Shorts
Posted: January 12, 2024
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    A crane collects waste floating in the Drina River near Visegrad, Bosnia, on January 10, 2024. (AP/Armin Durgut)
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    A worker uses a tractor to move waste near Visegrad, Bosnia. (AP/Armin Durgut)
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    Waste floats in the Drina River. (AP/Armin Durgut)
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    Trash collects in the emerald green Drina. (AP/Armin Durgut)
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Garbage floats down a river in Bosnia. Not a little bit of garbage. Tons of it. The huge trash float happens at least twice each year. Each time, the muck ends up near the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad.

 “New year, new problems,” says Dejan Furtula. “Or rather, old problems with new garbage floating our way.” Mr.  Furtula works with an environmental group in Bosnia.

Bosnia and nearby countries get wet weather in winter and early spring. Waterways swell. They sweep up trash from illegal landfills along their banks.

A barrier stops the trash near Visegrad. The water turns into a graveyard of plastic bottles, rusty barrels, used tires, household appliances, driftwood, dead animals, and other waste. It’s a stinky sign of a bigger problem. Bosnia doesn’t have a good way to handle garbage.

In the 1990s, Bosnia was at war. Waste wasn’t managed well. Since then, joblessness and poverty has become widespread in Bosnia. So has trash.

The Drina River runs 215 miles from the mountains of Montenegro. It passes through Serbia and Bosnia. The Drina is gorgeous. It’s famous for its views and its emerald green water. But who wants to raft on a river full of garbage?

“The ghastly sight that greets Visegrad visitors at the entrance to the town is a problem that we cannot solve,” says Olivera Todorovic. Ms. Todorovic works on the town’s Tourism Board.

Governments have a big responsibility. They must create systems that protect their people. This includes effective trash removal.

Bosnians work to clean up the river. But even that poses problems. Each year, more than 300,000 cubic feet of waste is removed from the section of the Drina near Visegrad. People take it to the city’s landfill. It gets burned. The smoke is dangerous for people’s health.

And the gunk keeps coming. The cleanup could last almost all year!

The authorities are ministers of God. — Romans 13:6