Huge Trash Buildup Totally Covers Section of Balkan River

Huge Trash Buildup Totally Covers Section of Balkan River

The Drina river is drowning in 350,000 cubic feet of garbage.

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Garbage in the Drina river, Bosnia.
Garbage in the Drina river, Bosnia, on January 19, 2023.
Photo: Armin Durgut (AP)

Some unsettling imagery out of Europe last week: The Drina river, a 215-mile waterway that constitutes much of the border of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia, has been covered in trash.

The pileup of waste spoils what is an otherwise beautiful setting. The river’s northern reaches are well known for their fishing, according to Britannica. The garbage accumulated at a trash barrier after flowing in from riverside landfills, according to the Associated Press. 

The AP reports that unauthorized waste dumps are common in the area, and the river buildup is unfortunately common when rainy weather increases the flow of water, to the extent that locals avoid rafting on river during “garbage season.”

When there’s substantial rainfall, flooding, or both, the Drina and its tributaries can carry more garbage to its destination: a trash blockade spanning the river near Visegrad, Bosnia. The barricade that spans the river was erected by a Bosnian hydroelectric plant downriver, the AP reported. The plant, which draws its power from the natural movement of the Drina, didn’t want any garbage clogging up the dam.

Dejan Furtula, a member of the local environmental group Eko Centar Visegrad, told the AP that the garbage flow was exacerbated by a week of heavy rain, and about 350,000 cubic feet of garbage are estimated to be clogging up the Drina.

It may take about six months to remove the trash to a nearby landfill. Click through for more photos of the trash blockade.

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That’s a lot of trash

That’s a lot of trash

Garbage in the Drina river, Bosnia.
An aerial shot of the garbage.
Photo: Armin Durgut (AP)

In this aerial shot, you can just make out the river amidst all of the trash. Can you spot it? It’s the light brown splotch at top center.

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A close-up of the trash

A close-up of the trash

Swirls of plastic pollution amidst driftwood.
Swirls of plastic pollution amidst driftwood.
Photo: Armin Durgut (AP)

Bottles and other plastic products in a pile-up of trash and other flotsam in the Drina river.

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The scale of the trash pileup

The scale of the trash pileup

Snowy hills loom above the giant patch of pollution.
Snowy hills loom above the giant patch of pollution.
Photo: Armin Durgut (AP)

The trash is blocked from moving farther downriver by a large barrier, set up by a nearby hydroelectric plant.

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The trash is a range of goods

The trash is a range of goods

An apparent cabinet or box sits in the trap pile.
An apparent cabinet or box sits in the trap pile.
Photo: Armin Durgut (AP)

The trash pile is filled with barrels, bottles, tires, and other junk.

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The trash pile from above

The trash pile from above

The trash pileup, with cliffs and a road at top.
The trash pileup, with cliffs and a road at top.
Photo: Armin Durgut (AP)

An aerial view reveals the shape and scale of the trash heap.

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Bottles in the garbage patch

Bottles in the garbage patch

Bottles and other plastic paraphernalia lie in the trash heap.
Bottles and other plastic paraphernalia lie in the trash heap.
Photo: Armin Durgut (AP)
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A dock next to the trash.

A dock next to the trash.

A small dock next to the trash heap.
A small dock next to the trash heap.
Photo: Armin Durgut (AP)

A small dock shows 11 boats next to the massive flow of trash.

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