Samir Mexhuani, 62, will soon be able to enjoy his coffee outside in his yard in Dardhishte - a village near Kosovo's capital Pristina- and like many in this area will be able to breathe cleaner air when he does so.
The clean-up of the ash hills near his home- the result of almost 40 years of careless disposal of ash created by burning coal at the nearby power plants- has begun by Kosovo's authorities with the support of the World Bank.
Living close to both the ash dump and the old power plant, Mexhuani says that the environmentally cleaner power station will make his village happy. "In the summer, I can't even drink coffee outside like normal people, because of all of the dust and pollution," Mexhuani said.
A heavy excavator is filling up jumbo trucks with ash that is being driven and offloaded to fill up other parts of the ash dump to prepare it for clean-up. Bulldozers are leveling the ground covered by ash and the overburdened dumps to stabilize these areas and make it possible for plants to grow here again.
This is one of the three components of the Clean Up and Land Reclamation Project, which is funded by a US$10.5 million grant from the World Bank and a Euro 3-million donation from the Dutch Government.
The second component is the adoption of an ash disposal system that will directly discharge ash to the open mine pit. Water pipes will transport the ash and therefore sharply reduce its open exposure during the process.
The third component is supporting the removal of chemicals from the gasification facility- a part of the old “Kosovo A” power plant. The research behind this component has already been completed, and an Independent Environmental Impact Assessment of this study and of its proposals is ongoing. The next step in this project component is the local treatment of the waste, but also the removal of its most hazardous parts to outside of Kosovo.