OSIJEK – A massive fire broke out at the Drava International plastic processing facility in the Osijek suburb of Brijest on Wednesday, prompting urgent warnings for residents to stay indoors due to potential toxic fumes. The incident has raised concerns over environmental and health impacts in the region.

Osijek, located in eastern Croatia, is the fourth largest city in the country. While Croatia is renowned for its Adriatic coastline and tourism, cities like Osijek play a crucial role in the nation’s industrial and agricultural sectors.

According to Croatian daily Večernji List, the fire began shortly after midnight, with emergency systems alerting residents around 5 a.m. to remain indoors and seal their homes due to potential harmful gases from the burning plastic. Osijek Deputy Mayor, Dragan Vulin, was on-site coordinating the response.

Approximately 100 firefighters, supported by 50 vehicles, battled the blaze throughout the day. Despite their efforts, the fire remained uncontrolled for hours, with reports of it spreading to the production facility. Three firefighters sustained injuries during the operation, one of them serious injuries resulting from a fall into burning plastic.

This isn’t the first time Drava International has experienced such an incident. In 2011, a chemical explosion at the plant resulted in the tragic death of a 34-year-old worker, while in 2015, a significant fire consumed 10,000 liters of oil.

Air quality measurements conducted by the Zagreb Teaching Institute for Public Health “Dr. Andrija Štampar” indicated that the air in Osijek and Brijest was not severely polluted. However, an epidemiologist warned of potential contamination from floating particles, advising residents against consuming anything from gardens and orchards exposed to the fallout.

Water quality was also a concern. The city’s entire water supply system was closed as a precaution, but subsequent tests confirmed the water was safe for consumption. Despite these assurances, the presence of styrene and ethylbenzene at the fire site raised alarms. Both chemicals can have adverse effects on human health, with styrene causing skin irritation and nausea, and ethylbenzene impacting the central nervous system.

Source/s: Večernji List

Image source: Roko Poljak / Wikimedia

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