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BTF Technical Assessment Mission - Kragujevac
Zastava Car Factory - Kragujevac Site report (PDF)

Kragujevac, a central Serbian industrial town of 150,000 inhabitants, is the home of the ‘Zastava’ car factory, formerly one of the biggest industrial facilities in the entire Balkan region. A large percentage of people living in Kragujevac depend on the factory, directly or indirectly, for their livelihood. At one time, Zastava had 36,000 employees in Kragujevac, producing over 30,000 cars a year. More recently, loss of markets and competitiveness, together with the effects of the economic embargo, have resulted in output dropping to less than half this figure. The factory provides a number of secondary products and services, including heating for a significant part of the town. The factory is located on the banks of the Lepenica river, a small tributary of the Velika Morava, which in turn flows into the Danube some 60 km downstream of Belgrade. The Zdralica River is also close to the factory.

BTF experts
visited the area
on 22-23 July
and 27 August.


The Zastava complex was targeted twice during the conflict, on 9 and 12 April. Heavy damage was inflicted to the power station, car assembly line, paint shop, computer centre and truck plant. Some parts of the factory were completely destroyed, and production was halted.

The air strikes reportedly caused extensive environmental pollution, with damage to soil, water and air. The main problems reported were the leaking of several tonnes of PCBs into the Morava River, and contamination of groundwater by PCBs and heavy metals. According to Zastava personnel, up to 2500 kg of oil containing PCBs was released into the environment as a direct result of the air strikes, and underground water tanks below the factory were polluted with transformer oil containing PCBs.

The BTF ‘Industrial Sites’ mission visited the Zastava plant on 22 July, the BTF Danube mission took water, sediment and biota samples from several sites on 27 August. Discussions were held with factory management representatives, who provided a written report on environmental damage resulting from the NATO airstrikes. Two locations were investigated in detail, namely damaged transformers at the power station and paint shop (where leakage of transformer oil containing PCBs had been reported).

Zastava Car Factory "Zastava Automobili"
was bombed
on 9 & 12 April 1999

The factory is located near the town of Kragujevac, on the right bank of the Lepenica River and
the left bank of the Zdraljice River.

The factory managers stated that, prior to the conflict, the Zastava Group had operated a very active environmental management system, accredited under the ISO 14000 environmental management quality standard. Clean-up work started immediately after the air strikes, with the intention of resuming production as soon as possible. A target had been set for production of 5,000 cars before the end of 1999.

The BTF Danube mission visited three sites on 27 August 1999 in this area: approximately 2 km upstream along the Lepenica from its confluence with the Velika Morava (only for the team to familiarize with the geography); river mouth of the Lepenica to the Velika Morava; and approximately 2 km upstream of Zastava along the Lepenica.

The team was accompanied by the FRY experts (Messrs. Miloslav Tanaskovic, Vladimir Stefanovic, Dragan Slobodan Djorkovic, and two TV crew members - Dragan Momcicevic “Filmskenovosti”, Mareeta Ratimir). Mr. Tanaskovic briefed the BTF team on the geographical background of the sampling sites and the situation when the water level was high.

The visit of the environmentally relevant areas of the car factory showed, that the environmental effects due to the bombardments are restricted to two transformer sites at the ”Paint Works” and the ”Power Plant” as well as a ”Waste Storage”, where damaged transformers and barrels with contaminated sand were found.


Zastava Car Factory


- extremely high PCB- and dioxin/furan-contents in the waste at the paint works (about 2 tons PCB); dioxins and furans from PCB itself not from a thermal formation. Same values in the wastes at the power station.

- PCB-contamination in the river Lepenica, but probably from two spills (fingerprint mainly contains another oil; slight exceeded Cr- and Ni-contents.

immediate careful management of the PCB-contaminated wastes and of the waste water at the paint works.

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